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Sheffield United realistically targeting 17th this season – boss Chris Wilder

Sheffield United v West Ham United – Premier League – Bramall Lane
(Image credit: Mike Egerton)

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder insists the only realistic aim for his team now this season is Premier League survival.

The Blades were a revelation last term on their return to the top flight, finishing ninth in the table, but are finding life much tougher during their second campaign.

Wilder’s side have earned only one point from their 10 matches after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at fellow strugglers West Brom – a fifth-straight loss and a ninth Premier League defeat.

The United boss believes the target for his team simply has to be to finish 17th, following the loss at the Hawthorns.

“No wins in 10, you are usually talking about a team going down but we need to stay in contact with the teams in and around us, and at this moment in time we are just looking at 17th, that’s me being realistic given the start we have made,” said Wilder.

“There’s no point being unrealistic about it. We have to try and finish 17th. We have to try and keep in touch and go on a run of games where we win three or four on the bounce and try and pull somebody else into it.

“And that can happen, we’ve seen it last season with Bournemouth and it could happen again, whether it be injuries, lack of confidence – as we are saying with us right now.”

The Blades are 13 games without a win going back to last season but Wilder’s side have been competitive in the majority of those matches, with eight of the 12 defeats in that sequence being by just a single-goal margin.

United have been having numerous chances in games – 21 shot at the Hawthorns on Saturday – but letting their opponents off the hook on far too many occasions.

And club chairman Musaad Bin Khalid Al Saud has since sent a defiant message of support backing Wilder.

He Tweeted: “Top performance, heads up high! We gave it 100% and always will. This is football, and we are ready for the fight! We go again next week, United and all together.”

Conor Gallagher’s first-half strike saw West Brom gain their first Premier League win of the season and lifted the Baggies out of the relegation places.

Albion boss Slaven Bilic wants his players to take that confidence into the forthcoming matches.

“It’s great to win – it’s the first win, no matter how well we think we’re playing, we didn’t get anything from the last few games so this is a big boost,” said Bilic.

“Then there’s always that cloud with the question mark – when are we going to get our first win?

“But we didn’t lie. We had a great work ethic on the training ground, a great atmosphere, but we weren’t getting the results or the rewards.

“We have now. It’s a big boost and we must take it into our coming games and move forward and build.”