Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder pulled no punches as he slammed his side for wasting a ‘massive opportunity’ to beat an out of sorts Liverpool at Bramall Lane.
In a refreshingly honest post-match interview, the Blades boss said his players had a glorious chance to do what Norwich did to Manchester City two weeks ago, but blew it, as a mistake from goalkeeper Dean Henderson handed the Reds a 1-0 victory on Saturday afternoon.
The Premier League leaders laboured to their latest win by the narrowest of margins, as Georginio Wijnaldum’s speculative strike was fumbled by on-loan Manchester United man Henderson to gift Liverpool to goal they needed to continue their 100 per cent start to the season.
And it was a fortunate three points against a stubborn Sheffield United side who look every bit a match for what the top flight has to throw at them.
Wilder’s men stunted Jurgen Klopp’s clinical front-three and also proved a threat to their solid back-four, with stand-in goalkeeper Adrian impressing again with a number of crucial saves to deny Leon Clarke, John Lundstram and man-of-the-match John Fleck.
Their winning goal was a huge stroke of luck, but that didn’t stop Wilder from throwing his players under the bus for their mistakes at both ends of the pitch.
Asked how he consoled his goalkeeper and the rest of his team after the game, the blunt Blades boss told talkSPORT: “I haven’t. I told them it’s a massive missed opportunity, and I believe that.
“We caught the champions of Europe on an off-day and our organisation and shape frustrated them. We were never going to go toe-to-toe with them, we were never going to open it up and make it a game of basketball, because we would have been murdered.
“But we feel their big changes have happened because of our mistakes, and when our big chances came from their mistakes we need to take them. Both ends of the pitch have cost us.
“Dean has not made a routine save. It cracks me up when ex-players say you shouldn’t chuck your players under the buss, but it’s difficult to hide when you’re playing wordwide football in the Premier League that your goalkeeper should make a save.
“Leon Clarke should score, John Fleck should score, John Lundstram should score and we had another couple of opportunities.
“I expect that level of commitment from my team and I expect a level of performance but in the big moments…
“Norwich were brilliant three weeks ago. Man City had an off day and Norwich jumped all over them, three shots, three goals and they ended up winning the game.
“We’ve had the same opportunity against an absolute top side to do what Norwich did, and we’ve not taken it.
“I haven’t got rose tinted glasses and I’m not a spin doctor, we’re in it for the points.
“If these players want to play at the highest level they’ve got to take the criticism and if they want to be players at this level and make a name for themselves, we’ve got to take the big moments, but we haven’t.
“We’re in this division not to make the numbers up, we’re here to be competitive, which I believe we can, and to take points, which we haven’t.”
Asked how his players took his criticism after the full-time whistle, he replied: “I’m not really bothered!
“I was just in and out, done, and it’s back to work on Monday.”