The Return of Chris Wilder: The former Sheffield United boss back in football with Middlesbrough

Featured image courtesy of George Wood via Getty Images

After his time at Sheffield United turned sour – the Blades rooted to the foot of the Premier League with only 14 points to their name – it was right for Chris Wilder to take a sabbatical. A relentless winner before this hiccup with Sheffield United, Wilder will be eager to get back to his best in the dugout at Middlesbrough. Four points off the play-offs, the Yorkshire born manager will relish the opportunity to get his new side firing from the get-go.

Chris Wilder’s time with Sheffield United saw him gain some well-deserved plaudits, transforming a sleeping giant from League One obscurity to the promised land of the Premier League in a matter of years. From my time tuning in to watch his Blades side, I can always remember his necessity to play with marauding centre-backs and an approach to overloading the wide areas. Moreover, Wilder seemed to have a knack at getting the best out of some average footballers – the likes of David McGoldrick succeeding under Wilder’s wing, alongside players such as John Fleck and John Lundstram. Wilder galvanised a Sheffield United team, a side still reeling from his exit to this day with the Blades marooned back into a lull he had helped them escape. It was a case of Wilder’s side losing steam, the dizzy heights of ninth in the Premier League after two promotions his final hurrah.

Let’s not forget that Chris Wilder has tasted success in his other managerial reigns, guiding Oxford United back into the EFL when he was manager at The Kassam alongside lifting the League Two title with Northampton in the midst of financial difficulties. The toxic atmosphere that coincided with his departure at Sheffield United was his first real failure as a manager, so it will be interesting to see how he’ll transition back into management with Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough haven’t exactly had the best couple of years, chopping and changing managers with Jonathan Woodgate and Garry Monk failing alongside Tony Pulis losing out in the play-offs before leaving The Riverside. Neil Warnock, as Warnock does best, had steadied the ship after Woodgate plunged Middlesbrough into an unlikely relegation scrap. A transitional manager, Warnock was relieved of his duties to make way for Chris Wilder’s return to management.

Embed from Getty Images

Will it be immediate success for Wilder at Teesside? Middlesbrough’s squad boasts talent, and personnel that Wilder could use to fit with his tactical preferences – the likes of Jonny Howson in a back three could provide Wilder with a new marauding centre-back, Howson typically a tireless central midfielder. The likes of Duncan Watmore fit the Wilder mould too, a quick and energetic winger turned striker who chases down any loose ball from the opposition. There’s a lot for the ex Blades manager to work with, Warnock stabilising Boro with the intent now for another boss at the helm to build on that stabilising.

It remains to be seen whether Wilder can instantly work his magic with this Middlesbrough side, having to adjust back to management away from Bramall Lane. Even with his Sheffield United side fizzling out in dramatic fashion, Wilder is a proven winner at EFL level. With the distant memory of Middlesbrough in the Premier League fading away under the tenure of Aitor Karanka some time ago, Wilder could well be the man to put Teesside back on the map in the top flight.