It might not win many popularity contests among visiting supporters but Chris Wilder does not understand why playing at The Den should hold any fears for his team.
The Sheffield United manager attempted to cut through some of the hype surrounding games against Millwall when he discussed tomorrow’s League One fixture in London with the media yesterday.
“We know what’s coming,” Wilder said. “It might be seen as an intimidating place to go but that’s only in the stands, not on the pitch. Out there it’s eleven versus eleven. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s our players versus their players and we have to make sure we do whatever it takes to win.”
Wilder publicly questioned his squad’s readiness to do exactly that immediately after Tuesday’s home defeat by Southend. Although the 48-year-old’s anger had subsided last night - “I thought we were on the wrong end of some poor decisions but there were things we should have done better even so” - he left United’s squad in no doubt he still expected to see “a response” in the capital. Nearly two hundred miles away at Millwall’s training base in Bromley, Neil Harris was probably making exactly the same point following their 5-1 loss to Peterborough.
“Quite possibly, their result was as much a shock as our one was,” Wilder (pictured) continued. “I’m sure what Neil will be telling his lads won’t be that different from me. He’ll want to see them come up with something after what happened too.”
The similarities between the two men, Wilder acknowledged, do not end there.
“I know Neil well and, when he went in there, he wanted to come about things in a certain way,” he said. “He had to change things around and start laying down a style that was different to what had gone on before. Neil will be under pressure to play a certain way at home because he knows there are certain things his supporters will and won’t accept. It’s the same here. I don’t need to be dictated to in terms of how we need to play. But, suffice to say, I want it to be in a manner which represents this football club and what it’s about.”
Millwall, play-off finalists last season, have won two and lost one of their four outings so far this term. United travel to London this afternoon searching for a first win since parting company with Nigel Adkins earlier this summer. But, Wilder warned, it is still far too early to predict how the race for promotion will unfold.
“You’re seeing some funny results at the moment and I don’t think it’s until 10 games in before people start to get some consistency,” he said. “You’ve seen inconsistency from a lot of teams, no more so than us. We’ve played well in periods and carved out good positions and chances. There’s no a manager in this division who views any game as a ‘gimme’ but we are more than capable of going down there and getting a result.”