WHEN the High Court ruling on the somewhat acrimonious takeover dispute at Sheffield United is finally revealed on Monday morning, Chris Wilder’s relief will be palpable.
Amid the popping of Champagne corks – and more specifically, the opening of numerous bottles of a well-known brand of Italian lager – following the club’s rousing promotion to the Premier League in late Spring, the ongoing battle between Kevin McCabe and HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud for sole ownership at Bramall Lane has represented the one issue painfully hanging over the club.
Mr Justice Fancourt is scheduled to announce his verdict at the start of the working week – at 10.15am on Monday – with Unitedities craving closure and clarity.
In his guise of a supporter as well as the club’s manager, Wilder counts himself firmly among that number and is understandably anxious that his future fears revolve around on-pitch matters – issues he can do something about in his professional capacity – as opposed to boardroom machinations which are out of his hands.
The Blades chief has enough on his plate as it is, after all, as he strives to establish his boyhood side back in the big time.
Wilder, whose side welcome Southampton tomorrow, said: “I think everybody just wants it to be over.
For a club to move forward, it needs to be united on the pitch and off it.Chris Wilder
“When I have asked to be backed, I have been. I have pushed. And they have supported me in their ways.
“But for a club to move forward, it needs to be united on the pitch and off it.
“I should imagine both owners want it settled. It is disappointing it has come to this from their point of view. But we have coped with it (on the pitch) and not used it as an excuse.”
A blast from the past – which has nothing to do with the club’s much-publicised boardroom spats over the past few years either – will also divert attention at Bramall Lane when visiting striker Che Adams returns to South Yorkshire and seeks to bite the hand that used to feed him.
It was a move that ultimately benefitted both parties, with Adams – who joined Birmingham in August 2016 after one brief substitute appearance under Wilder – making a name for himself at St Andrew’s and earning himself a £15m move to Saints.
On Adams, whose summer sale to Southampton yielded a windfall of around £3m for United, entitled to 20 per cent of any future transfer fee following his move to Birmingham, Wilder added: “He was a young player scored a few goals under Nigel (Clough) and got some headlines. But there was some interest from another club and he wanted to go.
“It was important at the time that I wanted players who wanted to help Sheffield United.
“There was no issue between me and Che. He had pre-season here and there was interest in him. At the time, we had to raise funds as well to reinvest in different areas which we did.
“Che went on and did very well at Birmingham and had a great season to get his move to Southampton. He will be looking to establish himself in the Premier League as much as we are.”
United’s international contingent are now back at the club’s Shirecliffe training ground, with a feather in the cap bestowed upon proud Corkonian John Egan, who captained the Republic of Ireland for the first time in their midweek win over Bulgaria.
Strikers David McGoldrick (shoulder) and Callum Robinson (hamstring), not involved as a precaution after picking up minor injuries in the draw against Switzerland last Thursday, will be assessed and given as much time as possible to prove their fitness ahead of the Saints’ test.
On Egan’s fillip and a wider honour for the whole club, Wilder commented: “It is brilliant for John.
“He is such a popular boy amongst players and staff.
“John’s background is from a famous family in Ireland with his dad and what he achieved in a different sport (hurling). But I know how much it would have meant to John not only to play but captain his country. It is a fantastic achievement.
“John is a future Sheffield United captain without a doubt.
“The Ireland skipper (Seamus Coleman) obviously is captain of his club at the minute and Ollie (Norwood) has taken that on when Billy (Sharp) has not been playing, he has captained his country as well. It is important we surround ourselves with those types of characters.
“John epitomises everything we try to do. He is honest, committed, enthusiastic and wants to win and is a good footballer.
“He is putting an awful lot of pressure on the two (regular) Ireland centre-backs and all he can do is keep playing well for us. Mick (McCarthy) would not give him the captaincy if he did not think as highly of him as we do.
“There is the likes of McGoldrick, Callum, Enda (Stevens) and Oli McBurnie – and I am sure (John) Fleck would have been close to the Scotland squad if he’d been fit, while Dean (Henderson) has been involved with England. I know he was desperately disappointed not to make the squad.
“He has set that bar and standard. I am sure he will be knocking on the door for the next squad.
“It is great for the football and I am always up for players to go away with their country. (But) it is always a part of me that is relieved when they come back without injuries.”