Chris Wilder insists he has not thought about the possibility of Sheffield United’s Champions League aspirations being enhanced by Manchester City’s ban from European football.
City were handed a two-season ban for breaching Financial Fair Play rules, though the Premier League champions are contesting the ruling.
Should Pep Guardiola’s team fail to get the ban overturned and still finish in the top four, it increases the possibility that the Blades – promoted from the Championship only last season – could play in the Champions League in 2020-21 by finishing fifth, although UEFA and the Premier League have not confirmed what will happen regarding England’s qualification spots.
City sit second in the table, 14 points ahead of fifth-placed Tottenham, so it would take a dramatic drop-off in form for them to miss out on the top four.
Chelsea occupy fourth spot and they host Spurs on Saturday, while Wilder’s side are just two points behind the Blues ahead of their home game against Brighton later that day.
“I’ve certainly not talked about it,” said Wilder when asked about City’s ban. “Nothing changes. It’s an extremely competitive league and we are proud of our position at the moment, we’ve worked extremely hard to get into that position.
“We’ve done a lot of things right and we’re going to have to do a lot of things right between now and the end of the season. We need to have a bounce of the ball and stay clear of big injuries but I have a really good group of focused boys that have got a huge amount of belief in themselves.
“I’ve been in the game long enough to know the pitfalls of patting yourself on the back. We are always looking to overachieve, that is something I have always tried to do as a manager. I think that’s a good attitude to take.
“Assessments will be made at the end of the season but we are in a great position. We are looking for the next three points and there will be no foot off the gas from our point of view.
“We’ve been in this position all along, it’s consistency. There’s some huge clubs in the mix but we’ve done fantastically well, there’s no getting away from it.
“Of course people will talk about looking up, and I want us to look up. I want us to reel in the teams above us. I can’t go into a team meeting later and say let’s be careful of staying out of the bottom three.
“We’ve been realistic all along. We were favourites to go down – being a promoted team, given what we spend to what we pay – but we’ve gone for it and we are in this position. Let’s see where it takes us and we’ll deal with that, wherever it is.”