Former Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder sends emotional message to fans

FORMER SHEFFIELD UNITED manager Chris Wilder has spoken for the first time since leaving Bramall Lane last month - and says that doing his bit to give his fellow Unitedites 'their club back' represents a great source of pride.

Chris Wilder. Picture: SPORTIMAGE.

Wilder, 53, is taking time out to reflect before embarking on his next step in management after exiting the Blades by mutual consent. after almost five years at the helm.

His eventual time at United encompassed two promotions and helping the club to their highest top-flight finish since 1991-92 when the club also finished ninth.

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Following his exit, Blades owner Prince Abdullah has claimed that Wilder wanted to resign twice and requested a £4m severance package to leave the club prior to his actual exit following a disastrous 2020-21 season.

The Prince said that Wilder had significant issues with the club's hierarchy regarding a number of issues, including recruitment.

By in breaking his silence in a statement to the League Managers Association, Wilder focused on the positive aspects of his time at his boyhood club and wished the club well.

He said: "When I walked back into Bramall Lane in May 2016, having been given the chance to manage the Club I’d supported all my life, who could have predicted the next four-and-a-half years? It has been some journey and one I’m immensely proud of.

"It was an opportunity I couldn’t resist and one that I couldn’t wait to get started. My story with Sheffield United was well-documented, as a fan, ballboy and player in two spells, but my managerial record to then was recognised and I was appointed on merit.

"I spoke to a lot of people, canvassed plenty of opinion and set about reconnecting the club and supporters at the same time as attempting to build a squad that could climb out of the doldrums of League One. Both of those goals were achieved.

"Admittedly, it wasn’t the start that everyone wanted but with Billy Sharp as captain and with the backing of the punters on the terraces, slowly but surely we went about our business, taking the rough with the smooth and staying humble as we began to build momentum that would take us to the heights of the Premier League and a highest ever finish in the modern era.

"Along the way there were so many achievements and moments to be remembered. In no particular order, important victories at Hillsborough, Elland Road and Old Trafford, collecting a record 100 points, open top bus parades, town hall receptions, thousands of fans welcoming us back to the Lane after fixtures at Northampton and Stoke and, of course, making sure we celebrated the successes because, as Blades fans well know, it’s either feast or famine.

"We were in good form when Covid hit last year and who knows how far we could have gone, you could not avoid the talk of possible European football – hopefully that kept a few Unitedites going in a tough period.

"As proved this season, football is just not the same without fans and I stand by the comment that I’ve made on numerous occasions, the Club have missed out more than most, Unitedites have the ability to turn losses into draws and draws into wins.

"I cannot stress enough how important the fans are and I’ve been humbled by the unequivocal support, even this season when things haven’t gone so well.

"I’ll miss the feeling of a packed Bramall Lane, to me it was one of the greatest atmospheres in football but I would say that, I lived the dream of every Blades fan and I hope every one of them understands that I tried to represent them correctly in ‘giving them their club back’, a phrase that has been said to me quite a few times. And one I verbally believe we did!

"I would like to wish everyone associated with the football club & the owners the very best in the future. This football club will always hold a special place in my heart, it has from an early age and that will never change."