Wilder defends FA Cup selection

Sheffield United
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder

Manager Chris Wilder has defended his decision to change his entire Sheffield United team for Saturday’s FA Cup victory over AFC Fylde.

The Blades went into the third-round tie with a completely different starting XI to the one that began Thursday’s 2-0 Premier League loss to leaders Liverpool.

That reverse followed on from a 2-0 defeat away to champions Manchester City on December 29 in what has been, as ever, a hectic festive period.

Callum Robinson and Leon Clarke scored the goals in a 2-1 triumph over the National League outfit but there were a few dissenting voices in the media after the match.


It was suggested that the United chief had disrespected the competition by resting the majority of his star players but Wilder felt it was the right thing to do given the volume of action his charges have seen in recent weeks.

“When I saw the draw a few weeks ago I was going to play a strong side,” he said. “But just looking at how the boys were, and the intensity of the fixtures coming up, I decided not to.

“I have full respect for the Championship, that is intense. But at this level, we go to Manchester City and then Liverpool away from home. That is really intense.”

The South Yorkshire side have enjoyed a superb return to the top flight and sit eighth in the standings despite being among the favourites for relegation before a ball had been kicked in anger this term.

They would not have expected to get anything from games against the Reds and Citizens but with the visit of West Ham on Friday, Wilder said he hoped “people will understand” the decision he made.

A trip to Arsenal follows before Pep Guardiola brings his star-studded side to Bramall Lane on January 21.