Chris Wilder’s return to Sheffield United this week was not the immediate fairytale reunion fans had hoped for, but showed signs of a potential resurgence.
Wilder took his position in the Bramall Lane dugout for the first time in more than two years on Wednesday as the Blades suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of title-chasing Liverpool.
While attention has turned to the Blades’ clash against mid-table Brentford at Bramall Lane this weekend, Wilder said: “The reception and performance they gave me on Wednesday was incredible.”
It has been a rocky start to the season for Sheffield United.
Their five points from the opening 15 matches is the lowest tally of any team in Premier League history.
It places them alongside Sunderland (2005-06) and their own struggles in the 2020-21 season. That season saw the Blades finish bottom of the Premier League on 23 points.
Wilder was dismissed in March of that season, but has returned for his second stint as Blades boss after Paul Heckingbottom was sacked on Tuesday.
Speaking after Wednesday’s match, Wilder said: “I understand some part of the support might have thought it was a mistake, me coming back, and I’ve still got to earn that trust.”
A poll by the Sheffield Wire on X/Twitter found 57% of participants did not feel Wilder was the right man to save the Blades.
Despite this, Wilder remains undeterred, optimistic about the challenges ahead and committed to steering the Blades away from the relegation zone.
“I do believe I’m the best man for the job, but I’ve got to go and prove that”, he said.
Saturday’s clash with Brentford marks the renewal of hostilities between the two sides, the first meeting since they met in the Championship March 2019. The Blades took a 2-0 victory that day.
While they have an impressive recent record against Brentford, their opponents sit comfortably in 11th place in the Premier League.
The Bees, currently on a hot streak against newly promoted sides, have won each of their last five Premier League encounters with such teams, albeit all at home.
What’s more, United’s dismal 3pm points-per-game record does not do them any favours going into this clash.
Among the 40 sides to play 100 or more games at the traditional Saturday 3pm kick-off time in the Premier League, Sheffield United have the lowest record in this slot (1.01 – P105 W26 D28 L51).
The Blades will need a drastic turnaround under Wilder’s leadership to defy historical odds and secure a much-needed victory against Brentford. He is due to face the media this afternoon.