Chris Wilder leaving Sheffield United should not be a shock, they are bottom of the table and hold no realistic chance of safety. Other Premier League managers have lost their jobs in better positions than his but he led this club to the promise land with a modest squad and even gave fans hope of qualifying for Europe last season. Many football observers from afar felt his job was safe. When you look at this situation though it’s like an onion, many layers to peel through.
As mentioned Utd are bottom of the table and currently rank as the 7th worst team in Premier League history. The high energy, bustling style was buoyed by supporters last season, the fans within Bramall Lane were worth a goal before the game had even started. This season the buzz has not been there and results have shown. You would expect though if the players could even produce a level around 75% of the performances from last season they would be in a better position? It’s not occurred though, defensively leaky and offensively they cannot score. A mad statement considering the lion share of Blades Premier League recruitment has been at goalkeeper and striker!
The narrative being spewed to the media right now is this divorce stems from the relationship disintegrating between Wilder and owner, Prince Abdullah. It’s probably the case but as a PR exercise for both sides it’s cleaner to portray this image of a souring than the board sacking the hometown hero after a bump in the road. Both sides will state and feel they are the victims.
Recruitment has been spouted as a issue between both sides of the falling out, the owner feels he has flashed the cash but Wilder feels not enough. Wilder has selected the incoming players but ownership feels they have not been good enough. Even the most diehard Blade must agree the incoming players since entering the PL have been underwhelming or underperformed. Last summers big signings Ramsdale and Brewster have been woefully poor. They are young and no doubt can bounce back, it was too early though in their development to be the main men of a side, they should be complimentary support pieces for a top flight club. It cannot be a surprise that recruitment was to be taken away from Wilder by the board. He refused this move and therefore Jan incomings were zero, the writing was on the wall, the owners way or the highway. A similar situation occurred at Brentford in 2015 when Mark Warburton left, he didn’t want to adopt the new club methods so left his role.
Like Warburton why wouldn’t Wilder allow transfer decisions to be taken away? Simple he is a old school manager, everything is to go through him. His progression through the English game with success at most clubs after a prolonged spell came about by this style, he is the man in charge! Their is no doubt he can spot a player around the EFL, players from the League1 promotion campaign and season of solidity in the Championship made up the team who came runners up in the Championship and performed last season. These lads were rough diamonds or misunderstood talents who subsequently showed they could compete at the highest level. To push on they needed a mix of new talent, this did not occur, Wilder as a manager could not progress the unit on at this level. If he cannot embrace how it works to manage a Premier League club then this could be is last opportunity at this level. Why would another PL team take him on, tactically inept, stubborn to change and recruited poorly during his top flight spell.
Where do both sides go from here?
Rumour has it former Cherries Head Coach Jason Tindall will be taking over at Bramall Lane till the end of the season. That is a mad appointment, they’d be better off letting Phil Jagielka pick the side till the end of the season while waiting to appoint a qualified, more prominent man to lead the charge for a swift return to the Premier League. If Tindall is coming in to be top man or a precursor for Eddie Howe to join too the next big decision will be who comes in to be chief of recruitment.
As I’ve said I do not think Wilder will get another job in the Prem, he will though be a sought after man in the Championship. Rumour has it he’s not interested in a job straight away, that’s cool as with his pedigree in the EFL he will be in demand and on owners shortlists for the foreseeable future. Celtic are looking for a new gaffer, his style of leadership could work on multiple levels for the fallen Scottish champs but they are looking to be more progressive like Sheffield Utd which may not suit Wilder.
Ultimately I believe their is a big chance next season he will be facing Sheffield Utd in a Championship league game.