Chris Wilder: Repeating Sheffield United’s top-10 finish will be a challenge
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder believes another top-10 finish in the Premier League will be hard to replicate, despite feeling his side are better prepared than a year ago.
The Blades were a revelation during their first top-flight season for 13 years, with the club’s dreams of European football only extinguished in the final week of the campaign.
Wilder’s men had been tipped by many for an immediate return to the Sky Bet Championship following their promotion but finished the 2019/20 season ninth in the table, which has raised expectations this time round.
Wilder thinks a repeat will be a tough ask but the 52-year-old insists he and his players are striving to continue improving.
“To replicate what we did last year is going to take some doing,” said Wilder, who has strengthened his squad with the signings of Aaron Ramsdale, Max Lowe, Jayden Bogle, Oliver Burke and Ethan Ampadu over the summer.
“Will it be a failure if we stay in the division again? I don’t know about that, but we all have to aim to reach the heights we hit last year.
“We feel we have brought players in to improve the group and as far as I am concerned we are in a good place at the moment.
“The group is better than last season and stronger for the experience of a first year in the Premier League, in my opinion. Now we have to walk the walk and go and try to show it and we are certainly up for that.
“We are all hungry for more. We are not comfortable – we will never be comfortable and pat ourselves on the back.
“The expectation levels have risen, and I understand that, but everyone else is stronger, as we feel we are, and it is an ultra-competitive division.
“We want to establish ourselves as a Premier League club. We know the enormous challenges ahead of us and nothing is taken for granted and nothing is a given because you had a decent season last year.”
The Blades begin the new season at Bramall Lane against Wolves on Monday and Wilder has stressed the importance of making a good start.
He said: “We want to hit the ground running because the start is so important. We got off to a fabulous start last year with four points out of our first two games and that allowed us to get a foothold in the division really early on.
“It’s important we try to make the same start and start the season the same way, with the same attitude and desire”