Chris Wilder told Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson to improve his concentration after his costly error in a 1-0 Premier League loss at home to Liverpool.

League leaders Liverpool struggled to break the Blades down at Bramall Lane on Saturday, but maintained their 100 per cent record thanks to Henderson's howler.

Georginio Wijnaldum's drive was straight at the goalkeeper but he allowed the ball to squirm out of his grasp and cross the line.

Henderson, on loan at Sheffield United from Manchester United for the second straight season, has been tipped for a maiden call-up to the England squad.

But he made the error in front of Three Lions boss Gareth Southgate and Wilder has little sympathy for the 22-year-old.

"If he wants to be a professional footballer, these things are going to happen," Wilder told a post-match news conference.

"But if he wants to play for the top teams, he wants to play for England, then he needs to do better.

"He needs to concentrate more. It's a disappointing day for him. I am not going to put my arms around him. Simply he needs to do better."

Sheffield United would have likely ended Liverpool's long winning run in the Premier League, which now stands at 16 matches, had Henderson kept out Wijnaldum's effort.

"I am not bothered about pride, I am bothered about the result," Wilder added. "Liverpool had an off day and I think we missed an opportunity. In pressurised situations we need to remain composed.

"We were delighted with the shape but their chances came from our mistakes. We have had big moments in the game but we did not take them, we had to jump all over it and we didn't.

"We had enough to get something out of this game but we did not take our opportunities. Points are the most important thing and we did not get points we deserved today."

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder concedes his team will have their work cut out defensively when they host Premier League leaders Liverpool on Saturday.

United have impressed on their top-flight return and claimed a second league win of the season when they prevailed 2-0 at Everton last weekend.

But Wilder appreciates the Blades' forthcoming Merseyside opponents – and a forward line of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane – present a daunting proposition.

 "It might not turn into a back three – it might turn into a back 10 or a back 11," he joked at a pre-match news conference.

"They've caused better sides than us untold problems in terms of where they move the ball around the pitch and where they attack with pace and with quality.

"Hopefully they don't show as much quality [as] over the last two or three years that has got them the results and got them success.

"You hope they have an off day and we get amongst them, make it uncomfortable and we try and drive the game forward when we have the opportunity to."

United were dumped out of the EFL Cup by Sunderland on Wednesday but Wilder is keen that his players do not shrink from the challenge of facing Liverpool, who boast a perfect record and a five-point lead in the Premier League after six matches.

"I don't want to look at this game with our players starry eyed, and speaking to their players before and saying, 'Can I swap shirts?' and 'Any chance of signing this?'," he said.

"We're in this game on a level playing field, in terms of a Premier League fixture. Of course there's enormous gaps between both clubs at the moment and we're trying to make that gap a little bit closer.

"My players don't get the results that they've achieved over the last three years without wanting to win and looking at the next game as a big challenge, regardless of the opposition."

Sheffield United have started well on their return to the big time, gaining four points from their opening two Premier League games.

The Blades have been to League One and back since they were last in the Premier League in 2007, spending six seasons in the third tier before gaining promotion to the Championship in 2017 under Chris Wilder's stewardship.

Wilder, a Blades fan and former player, has ushered in a new style of play at Bramall Lane, which bore plentiful fruit as his side edged out Yorkshire rivals Leeds United to finish second in the Championship last term.

Over the course of last season, Wilder adopted a 3-5-2 system, encouraging his team to play out from the back and get forward in numbers.

A key feature of United's play their overlapping centre-backs and, using Opta data, we have assessed just how the Blades' system works.

 

Three at the back... with a twist

Wilder's switch to a back three propelled United up the Championship and it is a fascinating, inspired approach.

The Blades' centre-backs are commonly Jack O'Connell, John Egan and Chris Basham, while Phil Jagielka rejoined the club in the off-season and provides an experienced head from the bench if required.

United's defenders are all comfortable with the ball at their feet and, while in possession, the two wider centre-backs – typically O'Connell and Basham – are given license to push on.

That allows the wing-backs to drive further forward, forcing opposing full-backs and wingers to defend, while rival midfielders must also draw wide to cover the advancing centre-backs.

Space is subsequently opened up in the middle of the park, with Oliver Norwood often dropping deep to dictate the play.

John Lundstram – whose goal earned a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday – and John Fleck press high to join the strikers, providing United with six attacking options within their opponents' half.

High risk, high reward

The decision to commit so many players forward does, of course, leave United open on the counter-attack.

However, Wilder's side play with pace and aggression once over the halfway line, a fact reflected by their attempted 12,579 passes in the opposition half over the course of the 2018-19 Championship campaign – the most of any team in the second tier.

Of those attempted passes, 8,720 were successful, while United's players had 1,251 touches in the opposition box, a tally which ranked behind only Leeds and champions Norwich City.

Though United's wing-backs do push further up the field, Wilder's men are not overly reliant on crosses into the area, with their total of 720 coming in as the sixth highest in the Championship last term.

Once United do have the ball in the area, last season's top scorer Billy Sharp is often the player to wrap up the move, though club-record signing Ollie McBurnie may be expected to fill that role this season. 

Basham had 78 touches in the opposition box last season, ranking at 11th in the Championship, while the centre-back also created 29 chances. Only Enda Stevens provided more goalscoring opportunities for United. 

Defensive solidity

Wilder's system may allow United's attacking players to thrive, but it also enables the Blades to remain steady in defence.

Though the centre-backs may get caught out by a pass in behind, the three defenders do remain in their shape while in possession, screening the width of the pitch.

While defending, the wing-backs tuck inside, with Norwood and the two more advanced midfielders dropping back to provide a barrier in front of the back three.

United's lack of pace up top could prove an issue if the Blades are pushed deep into their third, though the arrival of Callum Robinson from Preston North End does mean an out ball is available, while McBurnie or David McGoldrick are capable of holding up the play.

Against stronger teams, Wilder's system may well be found out, but so far United's commitment to their style of play is working out just fine.

Sheffield United have completed the signing of striker Oli McBurnie from Swansea City in a club-record deal believed to be worth £20million.

McBurnie starred for Swansea in the Championship last term, scoring 22 goals in the second tier.

The 23-year-old, who previously made 16 top-flight appearances while at Swansea without scoring, has now become United's eighth signing of the close season, signing a four-year contract as the Blades continue to strengthen ahead of their first season in the Premier League since 2006-07.

Blades boss Chris Wilder was delighted to have secured one of the club's long-term targets.

"We've had to be patient and work very hard to get Oli to Bramall Lane but I am confident he will be a tremendous success," Wilder told United's official website.

"We need options at the top of the pitch and Oli, as anyone who has watched a significant amount of Championship football will tell you, offers plenty in that area.

"He fits the profile of our transfer policy this season and is an age where his better years are ahead of him - hopefully he and the club can continue to grow together.

"I'm delighted with the transfer business over the summer, Oli is a big piece of the jigsaw, and the squad is shaping up ready for what will be a long and demanding season."

United round off their pre-season preparations away at Reims on Saturday, before kicking off their Premier League campaign against Bournemouth on August 10.

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has signed a new three-year deal ahead of his side's Premier League return.

The Blades have earned two promotions in three seasons since Wilder took charge in May 2016.

After guiding United out of League One with 100 points in his first campaign at Bramall Lane, the 51-year-old ended the Yorkshire club's 12-year exile from the top flight by finishing second to Norwich City in the Championship last season. 

"Chris signing a new contract underpins everything we are attempting to do at Bramall Lane," chief executive officer Stephen Bettis told United's official website. 

"He's been the catalyst for our success over the past few years, he is a driven individual and his focus since promotion was secured has been preparing the club for the Premier League."

Wilder is in the process of strengthening his squad ahead of their Premier League opener against Bournemouth on August 10.

Luke Freeman has arrived from QPR in a club-record deal and experienced defender Phil Jagielka is back at the club following his release by Everton.

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