Chris Wilder has reiterated his right to defend the interests of Sheffield United after Jurgen Klopp accused him of being “selfish” in his objection to the introduction of five substitutes.
The Blades boss was called out in a fiery post-match interview conducted by the Liverpool manager in the aftermath of the champions’ 1-1 draw at Brighton, during which they conceded a VAR-awarded penalty in stoppage-time.
Speaking after Sheffield United’s 1-0 defeat at West Brom, Wilder refused to be drawn on the specifics of Klopp’s rant but insisted he – and every manager in the Premier League – is under no obligation to consider anything other than their own interests.
“I’m not interested in that today,” Wilder told Sky Sports, when asked for his thoughts on Klopp’s earlier comments. “Maybe that’s for another time. As Jurgen made a good observation, we are just on one point. It’s not the time to talk about it.
“Everybody has that right and there’s 20 votes in this league. Nobody is looking after Sheffield United right the way through, so we have to look after ourselves.
“I’m not really going into the nuts and bolts, I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Liverpool as a football club, and for Jurgen, whether it’s looking after the club, whether it’s ‘selfish’, or another word that anybody uses.
“By the way there’s a few more managers in there who have looked after their own club… that’s enough from me.”
Rock-bottom Blades’ winless woes go on
Sheffield United’s dismal start to the season continued on Saturday night as they succumbed to Conor Gallagher’s first-half strike in a 1-0 defeat that left them rooted to the foot of the table without a win and with just one point from their opening 10 games.
The Blades registered 22 shots on goal at The Hawthorns – only Manchester City, Manchester United and Leeds have had more shots away from home in the Premier League this season – but were left to rue a host of missed opportunities, with Lys Mousset blazing over from close range in the dying moments.
“I was scratching my head,” Wilder replied, when asked how his side failed to score. “I thought we started the game well but then it was a poor goal from our point of view. We had a good reaction and in the second half we have to go for it.
“They got chances on the counter-attack but we had enough to win two games there. If we don’t show that quality or composure in the final third, then we won’t get something out of a game where we should get something from it.
“It’s a poor clearance [for West Brom’s goal] at the near post. He’s [Sander Berge] scuffed it and maybe we should have reacted to go and stop that shot. If we deal with the first one, you don’t have to react to the second one.
“The players know they have been in a game they want to win. They went to the end. The conditioning was good, and they were driving the game forward. They weren’t half chances. They are really good chances.
“In terms of the way we played to create those chances we must have done something right but as always the game gets decided because we didn’t put it to bed.”
39 – There were 39 shots shared between West Brom (17) & Sheff Utd (22), the joint-most in any Premier League game this season, with Sheff Utd’s expected goals figure of 3.3 the most of any side that failed to score since Arsenal (3.4xG) v Southampton in February 2016. Blunt. pic.twitter.com/2E2ZwZEnOE
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 28, 2020
Wilder: Keep believing, hoping
On Sheffield United’s poor form, Wilder continued: “You have to keep believing and hoping.
“We have to be realistic with the start we have had. We have to get three teams beneath us. That’s the situation we are in.
“I understand people talk about this team not getting many points. We have to give ourselves a fighting chance. We have to pick ourselves up between now and Christmas.
“I’m sure four or five teams in the bottom part of the division would take 17th now. That’s the intensity of the league and how cutthroat it is.
“There is nothing wrong with the attitude and desire of the team. It is just the quality in front of goal that has let us down today.”