Sheffield United's Phil Jagielka: 'Our best form of defence is aggressive attacking play'

The defender marked his first appearance of the season in the Blades' 3-3 draw against Manchester United on Sunday

Powered by automated translation

Phil Jagielka thinks Sheffield United have been rewarded for their fearless approach against the top clubs and have proved attack can be the best form of defence for the underdogs.

The promoted Blades scored three goals in drawing with Manchester United on Sunday and have also beaten Arsenal and drawn away at Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea.

Chris Wilder named a starting XI against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side that cost around £15 million (Dh71m), featured only two summer signings and included 10 players who had featured for the Yorkshire club in the lower leagues.

And former Everton captain Jagielka, who made his first Premier League start for the club since 2007 on Sunday, believes they have been justified in taking a cheaper approach.

The 37-year-old defender said: “If you sit in and wait to be beaten, game in game out, you might nick a win or a draw but as it stands our best form of defence is the aggressive attacking play. But at the same extent we are not leaving ourselves being wide open and going gung-ho. There is an element of using your brains as well.

Lys Mousset, who scored on Sunday, cost £10 million when he joined from Bournemouth and Jagielka deputised for the injured John Egan but manager Wilder has otherwise opted for continuity.

And Jagielka added: “When a promoted team does so well, sometimes they get torn apart. They spend hundreds of millions and they think that is the right way of doing things. The gaffer and this club decided to bring one or two in and it has worked massively so it is logical, sticking with the team ethic.”

Wilder’s 3-5-2 formation has posed opponents problems and Manchester United’s attempt to adopt a similar shape at Bramall Lane backfired.

Jagielka said: “You have got two ways of playing: do you adapt to try and counteract what we’re doing or do you think your version of how you want to play is going to work? So it is a game of chess. They tried to go three at the back and it is a difficult formation if you are not used to playing it. They were more comfortable with a four in the second half.”

Sheffield United, who were widely tipped for relegation, are sixth and Jagielka believes they have been underestimated.

“Physically we can mix it with anyone,” he added. “Technically [we are] maybe underrated. We have got some fantastic players but we will happily be underrated and pick up points.”