Roy Hodgson was asked for his views on the success of Chris Wilder's Sheffield United in his pre-match press conference today, describing the Blades as going "from strength to strength."
Looking back at Crystal Palace's 0-1 loss against United last August, Hodgson drew some comparison between the Sheffield United of five months ago with that seen today.
He said: "Sheffield United have gone from strength to strength. When we played them it was only their second game in the Premier League and everyone was wondering how it would go for them. It was pretty much the team which got them from the Championship to the Premier League. That team 24 games on is a really good team and has played exceptionally well.
"They’re a team to be reckoned with and will be looking more at Europa League places than even considering relegation."
Discussing one of their key tactical strengths, Hodgson explained United's adeptness in defence, saying: "One of the things we know they do is defend very well and get bodies behind the ball quickly. If we’re going to score we need to get balls into the penalty area.
"I don’t know how that will affect our approach that much but the players must be prepared for what they come up against. It will be very much on the individual players we have and movements we have up front to create opportunities and most importantly of all, if we create them to take them."
Hodgson went slightly further into explaining United's strength as a club, commenting on the calibre of their squad. He said: "There are quality players out there who aren’t being touted every day by agents as worth £20, £30 or £40 million. There are players out there that Chris Wilder has found and developed who are every bit as good perhaps as the players being touted for those sums.
"I’m pretty certain when we refer back to our second game of the season [v Sheffield United]... the names were not household names for us. The transfer value of those players then will be nothing like the transfer value of those players today because that’s what getting in the Premier League and doing well in the Premier League does to your football club.
"It’s credit to Chris Wilder and Alan Knill for the work they've done there because they’ve... found good players and it goes to show you can succeed at a football club if you work that way and you do find good players without a war chest of so many 10s or 100s of millions. Because there’s no guarantee the players you bring in will be better than the ones Sheffield United have found and worked on."
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