‘Dynamic leader’ Chris Wilder is rewarded with long-term Sheffield United deal
Arriving with an already-formed affinity to the football club you are about to manage is by no means essential, but it can help.
As a boyhood Blade, Wilder has that, as last night’s Premier League game at home to West Ham United demonstrated.
“Chrissy Wilder, he’s one of our own,” sang the Bramall Lane Kop.
But loyalty only stretches so far in football, so there will have been relief from those fans when they heard hours before kick-off Wilder had signed a new contract until 2024. It is only a few days before Christmas he told a press conference the club had not spoken to him about a new deal. Wilder, who thanked Prince Abdullah for taking the initiative, obviously did not take much persuading when they did.
For all the fairytale success on the pitch, 2019 was an uncertain year off it.
When the Prince went to the High Court to wrestle complete control of the Blades from Kevin McCabe, there was talk that if the chairman went, his manager would too.
Four and a half years is a long time to commit to a manager, but the length is more a warning to rivals that if they want to entice Wilder away, the compensation package will be huge.
Make no mistake, clubs are starting to notice the Blades have one of, if not the best, English manager.
His success at Alfreton Town, Halifax Town, Oxford United, Northampton Town and, since 2016, at Bramall Lane, was impressive, but came with the caveat that he had not done it at the highest level. This season Wilder has shown his innovative style can be successful in the Premier League too, even with a squad short on stardust.
The Blades have the option of an extra year.
Crucially, assistant Alan Knill has signed up too.
“Chrissy Wilder and Alan Knill” is another Kop anthem. They recognise the importance of the No 2.
“We’ve had a great few years and hopefully we can continue the upward curve,” said Wilder. “Let’s see how far we can go on this journey.”
It started in League One with a big club on its knees. Wilder has given the Blades their pride back, who knows where he can take them?