Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has blasted promotion rivals Leeds United, calling them ‘muppets’ while hailing his side following their return to the Premier League.
Wilder’s side beat Ipswich 2-0 on Saturday at Bramall Lane to secure promotion back to the top-flight for the first time since 2007, while Leeds drew 1-1 with Aston Villa at home the next day.
It ended Leeds’ chances of automatic promotion, becoming the first team in a decade to top the Championship on Christamas Day and not go up automatically.
“We’ve had one defeat in 13 and I’ve got muppets from Leeds talking about the pressure being on us,” Wilder told the Blades official YouTube channel, as his players popped the champagne to celebrate their achievement.
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“[Patrick] Bamford and [Adam] Forshaw and a couple of others saying ‘it’s over to you’ and this, that and the other.
Marcelo Bielsa’s side are three points behind Sheffield United with two games to go and are relying on Chris Wilder’s side to slip up.
The Blades have two players in the XI – Oliver Norwood and Billy Sharp.
Norwood was on loan from Brighton before making the move permanently in January while Sharp has notched 23 league goals this season.
Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham is also in the side after impressive performances for Aston Villa where he has scored 25 times.
Team-mate Jack Grealish is also included, despite missing three months of the season through injury.
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Villa have won 10 straight games to all but secure themselves a play-off spot.
The team is completed by Middlesbrough goalkeeper Darren Randolph where he has helped his side to the joint best defensive record in the league.
One notable absentee is Birmingham City striker Che Adams, who was on the shortlist for player of the season.
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The players will be honoured at the PFA’s annual awards ceremony in London on Sunday, April 28.
PFA Championship Team of the Year 2019: Darren Randolph (Middlesbrough), Max Aarons (Norwich), Liam Cooper (Leeds), Pontus Jansson (Leeds), Jamal Lewis (Norwich), Jack Grealish (Aston Villa), Oliver Norwood (Sheffield United), Pablo Hernandez (Leeds), Billy Sharp (Sheffield United), Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa), Teemu Pukki (Norwich).
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Sharp has regrets. Speaking after becoming the joint-highest scoring Englishman this century following a brace against Blackburn in December, he said: “If I could have played here all my career then I would have done.
“I’d have loved to have done that.
“I had to go away a couple of times to benefit myself but I feel as if I’ve come back at exactly the right time.
“I feel as fit and as strong as ever. I feel I can keep going for sometime yet.”
Sharp went back to the drawing board and started the 2008/09 season in devastating fashion.
An opening day hat-trick against Queens Park Rangers looked like setting the tone for the rest of the campaign, following that up with a crucial equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Coventry a few weeks later.
But that was to be his last league goal of the season.
Come July and Sharp’s dream return had turned into a nightmare – finding himself on the transfer list following the Blades’ failure to secure promotion.
A season-long loan to Doncaster followed. Sharp was unusually handed the No 5 shirt for the new campaign – and that killer goal instinct was well and truly back.
Injury halted his progress towards the end of the 2009/10 season, but still Sharp notched 15 goals in 33 league games.
United rejected a £1m from Doncaster, before Sharp himself turned down a move to recently relegated Burnley – despite the offer in excess of £1m being accepted.
Doncaster finally struck gold though, agreeing a fee of around £1.15m to land Sharp on a three-year deal in July 2010.
The second chapter of Sharp’s Sheffield United career had closed.
Unsurprisingly, he was a big hit at Doncaster during his two years at the club – and was on the move again in January 2012, reuniting with his old Iron boss Nigel Adkins at St Mary’s, penning a three-and-a-half year deal in the process.
However, it proved to be a strange time for Sharp at Southampton – making just 17 appearances spanning a two-and-a-half year period.
While he found the net nine times during that time, he was shipped out on loan to Nottingham Forest, Reading and former side Doncaster during that time.
Leeds United was Sharp’s next port of call, albeit a brief one.
The front man will be the first person to tell you that his spell at Elland Road was not the finest time of his career, scoring just five times in 33 appearances.
But then it was time for him to return home – and as they say, the rest is history.
His first season back at Bramall Lane heralded 21 goals, with his 30-goal return the next season helping Wilder’s men return to the Championship.
The player of the year shortlist was also announced with Birmingham’s Che Adams, Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp and Norwich striker Teemu Pukki all up for the top award.
The official team of the year announced was as follows: Darren Randolph, Max Aarons, Reece James, Liam Cooper, Jamal Lewis, Kalvin Phillips, Oliver Norwood, Jarrod Bowen, Che Adams, Teemu Pukki and Billy Sharp.