Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has described Wolverhampton Wanderers as the ‘Manchester City of the Championship’ after admitting their spending power has changed the division’s financial landscape.
But, speaking ahead of this evening’s meeting between the two club’s at Molineux, Wilder admitted his players have already proved that money does not win football matches by forcing themselves into promotion contention.
Wolves, who boast an eleven point lead at the top of the table, have lavished over £50m improving their squad since Fosun International’s takeover two years ago with Rúben Neves, Diogo Jota and Benik Afobe among those to arrive in the Black Country.
Wilder said: “We recognise and respect the players. But I am not that bothered where they have come from and how much they get paid and spent on them. It is a level playing field in terms of getting themselves out there and coming up against a really good side on a level playing field in terms of what we can do and they can.”
“Other things can try and win games and that is the beauty of football, full stop,” he continued. “It is not always decided on bank balances and the financial aspect. We have always tried to put a dent in that this year and the majority of times, we have. I understand where the ‘Manchester City’ analogy comes from and, yes, they have changed the landscape. But we respect them and, even with the money, you have to construct a team.”
United, whose most expensive acquisition during last month’s transfer window cost around £750,000, remained seventh in the table after being beaten by Aston Villa earlier this week.
Wilder, who insisted that defeat had been undeserved, said: “Our season is not done and dusted if we don’t get a result at Wolves. We have 17 games left and 16 after Saturday. We will have played Derby, Villa and Wolves twice; the top 3 all done and dusted. We’d love to get a result but it doesn’t make or break our season. We look at the next game and that after Saturday, that is when it is going to be won and lost - maybe in the next 5 or 6 after that.
“If we are going to competing at the back end of the season, going into the last five or eight games to get into the play-offs, we have to set it up by our next eight games going into that.”