Chris Wilder still has ‘fire in the belly’ after succeeding Neil Warnock as Middlesbrough manager

CHRIS WILDER says that his return to football management at Middlesbrough represents the most important decision of his career.

The ex-Sheffield United chief, who left the Blades in March, has replaced Neil Warnock at the Boro helm and is confident that a move to the Riverside Stadium is a ‘great fit’ for him.

The 54-year-old, who will be joined by long-time assistant Alan Knill, has revealed that he rejected several opportunities to return to the game in order to wait for the right challenge, one he strongly believes he has found at Boro.

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He said: “This is a great fit for myself, and hopefully I can be a great fit for Middlesbrough Football Club. I think the next fit was the most important one of my whole career personally. I had to get it right.

Chris Wilder: Former Blades manager replaced Neil Warnock at Boro yesterday. (Picture: SportImage)

“I’ve had some offers in the past six months from various football clubs. The top and bottom of it is it had to right for myself and Middlesbrough ticks the boxes that I needed to be ticked for my career going forward.”

On his delight at returning to the game after a break of almost eight months, Wilder added: “My hunger to go again after the experiences I have had recently is absolutely huge. The fire in the belly is burning.

“I want to go again, and I want to drag this football club with me.

“I do feel I deserve the opportunity after what I’ve achieved at Sheffield United with a great group of players, staff and fans.

of Chris Wilder who Middlesbrough have announced as their new manager, replacing Neil Warnock who left the club on Saturday. (Picture: John Sibley/PA Wire)

“I feel I deserved the opportunity to work at another big club off the back of that, and for me, they don’t come much bigger than Middlesbrough in the Championship.”

The lure of working for one of football’s most respected owners in Steve Gibson was another persuasive factor in the decision of Wilder, who presided over the Blades’ thrilling promotion to the Premier League in 2018-19.

Wilder – whose first game in charge will be at home to Millwall on November 20 – added: “I think if you speak to anybody internally in football over the last 20 or so years, Steve Gibson comes up right at the top of the tree in terms of really solid owners that look after their football club.

“I know how passionate he is about the club and the area.

“From speaking to him, I know his ambition, which was a real positive feel for me as well, is to get the club back into the Premier League.”

Football reports: Pages 2-5