Boss discusses performance, change in shape and debutant Conor McAleny after 2-0 win at Bramall Lane.
- Caldwell: “Composure and game-management pleasing.”
- Manager discusses change in shape that saw Latics line-up 4-1-4-1 against the Blades.
- Praise for debutant Conor McAleny who marked his first Latics appearance with a goal.
Still unbeaten in 2016, Caldwell watched on as a Will Grigg penalty and debut strike from Conor McAleny secured all three points for Latics after a solid first-half was followed up by an explosive first ten minutes following the break.
Reflecting post-match with LaticsPlayer HD, Caldwell said:
“I was absolutely delighted from start to finish; I thought we showed a lot of composure, game management and an understanding of how to win away from home by controlling the game in the first-half and then second-half showing devastating forward play to finish the game off.
“If anything, it could have been more with the penalty we had and the chances we created on the counter attack late on.
“At half-time I told the lads they were doing OK because we were in control of the game and we were playing in possession but without hurting them as much as we could have.
“If they wanted to up it in terms of the speed of their play and their penetration in their passing then the opportunity was there for them, to be fair they were devastating in the second-half for 20 minutes or so and they could have had more than two goals.”
Caldwell was pleased debutant McAleny backed his first Latics bow with a goal in the second-half, the Scot handing praise to the Everton loanee’s all-round performance.
“I thought Conor was superb,” he added. “He has only had a few days to train with us and that can be difficult but he showed the quality that he has in possession, he’s clever and tight with the ball, he doesn’t give much away.
“I also thought he worked hard to get back for the team because we had to change it today to combat their attacking threat from the full backs.
“We know that if he gets opportunities, which he will be cutting in off the wing, then he will be a finisher and I thought his goal was superb in the way that he took it.”
As mentioned, Caldwell had to change shape to show respect to a Blades who hadn’t failed to score at home all season with Sam Morsy making his first start in a new role in midfield, and the boss was pleased with the execution.
“We looked at their full-backs from the game at the DW last month and when they gambled in the game, they did that by pushing their full-backs on so we felt that would be something that they would try and do in the game to give them that impetus,” Caldwell continued. “We played a 4-1-4-1 to block up the channels with Yanic [Wildschut] and Conor but also then drop Sam into a back three to try and get us playing out in our usual way.
“Sam came in as well and, again, away from home you have to respect the opposition and come up with something that looks after the threat that they pose but then also gets us in the game and allows us to play our way and he was somebody that could play that role by dropping in and getting us passing the ball, he did very well.
“I thought it worked well given that we have only worked on it for a couple of days in training.
“I set the challenge to the players to go and keep a clean sheet because no team has gone to Bramall Lane and stopped Sheffield United from scoring this season. They are a good side and Billy Sharp is a massive threat so to come here and get a clean sheet was just as important as the goals we have scored.”