Chris Wilder has returned to Bramall Lane hoping to unite his boyhood club.
When all the Leicester City players turned up at Jamie Vardy’s house to celebrate the Foxes’ Premier League title, it was a moment Chris Wilder could relate to.
Ever since he managed a local Sunday morning team in Sheffield, before serving his apprenticeship at footballing outposts such as Alfreton Town, Halifax Town, Bury, Oxford United and Northampton Town, Wilder has prided himself on creating a fierce team spirit.
That has been forged both on and off the pitch, and it will be one of his first tasks at Sheffield United to try and create some much-needed unity.
“I like the phrase “it’s not a holiday camp, but it’s not a concentration camp”, it’s somewhere in between,” said the 48-year-old, who chalked up over 100 appearances for the Blades in two spells during the Eighties and Nineties.
“I like to think when I played my best football – which wasn’t for a big period of my career – that I enjoyed it.
“Whatever group we put together, it has to be together.
“It’s never been about me in my managerial career – it never will be about me – it’s about coming to the right result.
“It has to be a group effort. It works at every level, even at the top. Look at Tottenham, Leicester, they are all in Jamie Vardy’s house watching the results come in.
“Look at Burton in League One this year, not the biggest budget and not the most talented group, but possibly the most together group in that division.
“At my previous club (Northampton), the reason we had the results we had, we signed proper people who put in proper performances, and they were together in everything they did.
“That’s the way I have always worked, even when I was looking after a local Sunday team when I was still playing. It’s that team spirit. Of course when you are winning it always makes it easier, but there’s going to be times when we are in a hole and the players need to pull each other out of that hole. They will do it together, and that’s my message to everybody.”
United have got one of the biggest budgets in League One, but Wilder is used to working with limited resources. He says those days are “gone” when the Blades paid inflated prices for new signings.
“The recruitment here is going to be massive, getting value for money,” said Wilder, a former Bramall Lane ball boy.
“A lot has been talked about the budget, maybe the overspend – and I should imagine we will have a decent budget – but one of the attractions to the co-owners is my past record.
“There’s no reason why we should pay over the odds for players here. We won’t be doing that, those days are gone.
“I am not saying we won’t pay players their worth, or we won’t pay the going rate, but they have to be worth it. They have to be value for money. I have to maximise that budget.
“The supporters can relate to that.
“I don’t think they mind Billy (Sharp) getting paid what he gets paid, he earns every penny of it. Players have to produce it.”