When Thomas Christiansen leafs through his scouting reports on Sheffield United, the Dane is unlikely to discover anything he does not already know.
There are no surprises about how Sheffield United go about their business. Nor, as Chris Wilder admitted during yesterday’s media briefing, will the prospect of facing over 30,000 hostile Leeds supporters prompt a change in approach.
But, as the likes of Derby County, Sheffield Wednesday and most recently Reading have discovered this term, identifying United’s strengths is easy. Combating them is another thing entirely.
“You’ll have to ask opposition managers and opposition teams,” Wilder said. “I don’t think anything goes unnoticed now, with all the video analysis there is. Nothing is a secret.
“But it’s like anything else, it’s all right watching it. You’ve got to stop it as well. The same goes for us when we look at other teams. Is there an element of surprise? I don’t know and I’m not really bothered to be honest. I’m more bothered about us and what we do.”
United travel to Elland Road tomorrow third in the table and only two points behind leaders Wolves after winning nine of their 13 games since being lifting the League One title. Christiansen, whose team climbed to fourth following an emphatic win over Bristol City, has proven a shrewd appointment by Leeds’ new owner Andrea Radrizzani. But the ease with which Wilder’s squad has acclimatised to Championship football after a six year absence is the story of the season so far.
“You’re in the bubble of getting on from game to game,” Wilder replied when asked for a reason. “All I know is they’re doing great. I’ve said all along, it’s about getting good characters in the building who are talented at football. If they are willing to work hard, it’s a fantastic quality to have. Players are driving themselves forward. They’re not feeling sorry for themselves if they’re not involved.”
“A great example of that is Mark Duffy,” Wilder added. “He dropped out of the team and David Brooks came in. What does he do? He can easily think ‘this competition is a bit too hard for me, I can easily go and get a game somewhere else.’ “Or does he say ‘right, I’m going to show you?’ That’s happening all over the group. They recognise that’s what required from myself and if they want to be a part of this going forward.”