Chris Wilder always Blades’ No 1 choice despite interest from overseas

Alan Knill assistant manager, Chris Wilder the new manager of Sheffield Utd and Kevin McCabe co-owner. Picture: Sport Image
Alan Knill assistant manager, Chris Wilder the new manager of Sheffield Utd and Kevin McCabe co-owner. Picture: Sport Image
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Kevin McCabe said Sheffield United chose Chris Wilder as their new manager despite interest from foreign coaches.

Lifelong United fan Wilder – fresh from taking Northampton Town to promotion in League Two – was appointed this week to succeed the axed Nigel Adkins.

Co-owner McCabe moved swiftly to bring Stocksbridge-born Wilder back to Bramall Lane – where he was a player in the Eighties and Nineties – with the manager having held talks with Charlton Athletic earlier in the week.

“The way football works, myself and my colleagues had approaches from candidates both in this country and abroad,” said McCabe. “But our mind was always, if we could get Chris, then it would be him.

“There was no emotion or sentiment in it because he’s a supporter and a former player.

“But rather what he has done coming up the ladder. What he did at Northampton, when lots of people really started to take notice, was remarkable.

“It was a decision taken very close to the final game of the season, when we had to move quickly.

“We had some very tasty names but one was obvious to me.”

Adkins paid with his job after United missed out on promotion – eventually finishing 11th – as well as failing to bring through enough Academy youngsters to become first-team regulars.

Wilder, a former Bramall Lane ball boy before going on to play for United and making over 100 appearances, will be tasked with discovering the next generation of Blades stars.

“Nigel Adkins is a very nice guy but we were getting ever frustrated because there was no sign of the team truly being turned around,” said McCabe.

“We need a unity of our footballing division, which has probably been lacking a wee bit.

“ We need a unity with our youth development structure in a better way, to help some of our talented youngsters making it as regular first-team players.

“We need to blend a team, but we are not silly enough to think that you can win championships with youngsters.

“We need good, well-chosen seasoned professionals, which perhaps in the last few years, while we have been free of spending – and I say that as a board member that we have made funds available – we have probably not recruited so well,” explained McCabe.

“There will certainly be no lack of support to Chris and the football management team to get it right.”

The high turnover of managers at United is not something that worries Wilder, who enjoyed six years in charge of Halifax Town.

“I can’t change what’s gone off, all I can affect is the future and the future progression of the football club,” he said.

“The history doesn’t scare me, it’s a big challenge and I understand that.

“There were other offers, even up until yesterday. But when this club come calling, there was only one decision. You only get the opportunity to manage this club once, and I was definitely going to take it.

“My record is one of success, on budgets I have had to work within, and I have been in the game for a long time.

“Both as a player and my grounding as a manager, I have been through different scenarios and believe I am ready for this chance and the opportunity.

“I have been patient, I have not had a failure on my cards – and I don’t expect or want that – and I want to take this club forward.

“It’s been a long time in this division, everybody wants the same thing, they should do, and they will do while I am in charge. We have to all pull together.

“The target is to get out of this division.”