Chris Wilder using Pep Guardiola’s praise as fuel to fire survival push

Chris Wilder believes Pep Guardiola’s bafflement at Sheffield United’s league position underlines their ability to get out of relegation danger.

The Blades remain rooted to the bottom of the Premier League with just eight points after a 1-0 defeat at Guardiola’s Manchester City on Saturday.

Yet despite conceding early to Gabriel Jesus, the Yorkshire side fought hard at the Etihad Stadium and almost snatched a point late on when John Fleck shot narrowly wide.

The Blades produced a battling display at the Etihad Stadium
The Blades produced a battling display at the Etihad Stadium

Coming after a victory at Manchester United on Wednesday and some other encouraging performances in recent weeks, manager Wilder feels hope is still alive.

Wilder said: “In the opinion of other managers, Pep included, he’s scratching his head, he said to me, at the position we are in.

“There has been a lot of criticism of the team but I don’t want us to look like a team that turned it in and you’ve not seen that all season.

“Man City is an incredibly tough place to get something and they’re bang in form, but we made it tight and uncomfortable for them.

“Now we have got to make it uncomfortable for teams above us and the teams we’ll be playing against. We’re going to be a really competitive side for second half of season. I can see us winning games and players believe that.”

The Blades had been winless coming into January but the turning point seems to have been an FA Cup third-round win at Bristol Rovers. That was followed by victory at Newcastle and encouraging performances in defeat against Tottenham and City as well as the success at Old Trafford.

Wilder said: “We can’t get away from the fact the league position hasn’t been good enough and it is what it is.

“But the feeling in that changing room at the moment is a good one and possibly the best it has been all season.

“That’s not being negative in terms of anything that happened before, it wasn’t a broken changing room, but it’s got a real good feel to it at the moment and everyone is looking forward to the challenge of the next 16 or 17 games.”