As things stand Sheffield United are seven points from safety after their draw with West Ham last Sunday. With 17 games to go they aren’t in the position where every game is a must-win, yet. But the improvements since Chris Wilder has re-entered the building should inspire confidence within the team and fan base.
Have Sheffield United improved since Chris Wilder’s return?
Some supporters have recently taken to social media to voice their concerns regarding the ‘lack’ of improvement since Chris Wilder has taken over. Actually, I think that is completely false, and the statistics prove it.
Under Paul Heckingbottom, the Blades had registered five points in 14 games, with a couple of those games being complete whiffs against relegation rivals at the time: two horrific defeats back-to-back against Bournemouth at home (1-3) and Burnley away (5-0). Those defeats ultimately spelled the end for Heckingbottom.
Across those 14 games, Sheffield United had scored 11 goals from an expected goals tally of 10.66. This works out at the Blades were earning 0.35 points per game, while scoring 0.78 goals per game from a registered xG of 0.76 per game.
Meanwhile at the other end of the field they had conceded 39 goals from an expected number of 35. The Blades were leaking 2.8 goals per game from an expectancy of 2.5.
Under Chris Wilder, Sheffield United have registered five points in seven games: with three defeats coming against Liverpool, Chelsea away and Man City away. This works out at 0.71 points per game under Wilder.
To add, the Blades are now registering 0.85 goals per game from an expectancy of 1.3 per game. That’s almost double what it was under Heckingbottom. While this number shows United are underperforming in front of goal, it also shows quite clearly the improvement in creating goalscoring opportunities.
Defensively, Wilder’s Blades are conceding an average of 1.7 goals per game with an xGA of 1.76 per game. While this number is still high, once again it shows how much Sheffield United have improved in this category.
To summarise, since Chris Wilder has arrived back in the building we have seen a 9% improvement in terms of goals scored per game, and a 71% increase in goalscoring chances created per game. Plus, we have seen a 39% improvement in goals conceded per game, even though the Blades faced three four elite teams (if you include Aston Villa) in that time.
The foundations have been set by Wilder and his coaching staff, and we are seeing a big improvement in both boxes. But, unfortunate turn of events, such as a late goal conceded against Villa, and two wicked deflections against Luton Town, that sequence of results seemed to have amplified negativity among the fan base.
I know it’s a points business, but to suggest, like some have, that their hasn’t been an improvement is quite the take.
I personally don’t think the relegation fight is over, especially when points deductions are hanging over Nottingham Forest’s (16th) and Everton’s (17th) heads. If the Blades can stay on this path and turn a couple of these draws into wins, the picture will begin to look much rosier, even for the most negative of supporters.