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Dixon: Wilder can challenge Klopp for manager of the year

10 Feb 2020

Arsenal legend praises Sheff Utd's achievements as Blades remain on course to become one of the best-ever promoted clubs

Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp claimed a record fifth Barclays Manager of the Month award in a season by winning January's honour, but, according to Lee Dixon, Chris Wilder is a strong rival for the annual award.

Dixon, a double Premier League champion with Arsenal says the Sheffield United manager guiding his team to fifth place after Sunday's 2-1 win over AFC Bournemouth is worthy of recognition in May. 

"Arguably he has done a better job than Klopp," Dixon says of Wilder. 

"The way they are playing, the tactics on the pitch... it's surprised a lot of opposition the way he has gone about the game. I think arguably he should be up there at the top of that list."

Challenging the elite

With 39 points from 26 matches, the Blades have one more than their total from 2006/07, their last campaign in the competition.

Their 24 goals conceded is the best defensive record behind the 15 of leaders Liverpool and their seven defeats are the fewest by a promoted side at this stage of the season since the six recorded by Fulham in 2001/02.

Following Wolves

With less than a third of the campaign remaining, the Blades are on course to emulate and even beat the achievements of Wolverhampton Wanderers last season.

Nuno Espirito Santo's side became one of the best-performing promoted teams in Premier League history when finishing seventh in 2018/19.

Sheff Utd have the same number of points that Wolves had at the same stage 12 months ago.

If they maintain their average of 1.5 points per match and also finish with 57 points, it would be the joint sixth-highest total for a promoted club.

And if Wilder's men sustain their position of fifth, it would be the joint fourth-highest Premier League ranking for a team coming up from the second tier.

Highest-finishing promoted clubs 
Season Club Position Pts Ave. ppm
1993/94 Newcastle 3rd 77 1.83
1994/95 N Forest 3rd 77 1.83
1992/93 Blackburn 4th 71 1.69
2000/01 Ipswich 5th 66 1.74
1999/00 Sunderland 7th 58 1.53
2018/19 Wolves 7th 57 1.50

The Blades can further strengthen their position when they host Brighton & Hove Albion and Norwich City in their next two fixtures, two opponents they have beaten on the road this season.

Finishing fifth would also mean they emulate Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Ipswich Town and Wolves in becoming only the fifth promoted team to qualify for Europe via their league position.

Given they are just two points behind Chelsea, whom they are yet to host at Bramall Lane, the Blades could surpass Wolves' feat by securing a place in the UEFA Champions League.

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