On March 13, with Sheffield United at the bottom of the Premier League, Chris Wilder’s tenure came to an end when his contract – which had been extended for four years just 14 months earlier – was canceled by mutual consent.
It was a dark day all around. A longtime Sheffield United fan had quit his life’s job, a change of management was underway and the club were set to return to the Championship.
But as he reflects on the nearly five-year span – which has led United from League One to the Premier League – the overwhelming feeling is pride.
“I’m incredibly proud to have brought the club together again, regardless of the amazing experiences we’ve had; the first season with 100 points, the second season the first time we faced our rivals for a while, then to new in the league, where the club should be, at a minimum, “he told Sky Bet’s League of 72 Youtube channel.
“Obviously the journey to the Premier League and even the experiences of the season that didn’t go so well. There was a huge lag between every part of this football club, which I felt because I was living still in town. We brought back some pride in the badge. “
Being in the Premier League spotlight
Reaching the Premier League after 12 seasons of absence meant that a lot had changed by the time Sheffield United returned there in 2019, including the significant increase in media coverage and the resulting element of pressure.
“You have to be prepared and ready – the coverage is amazing,” he continues.
“It used to be a team photo in the field and the Yorkshire Post and a few outlets in Sheffield. I got to know them all because we used to have our Christmas party with the reporters at Bramall Lane. Then all of a sudden we’re in a covered area of the training ground and it’s absolutely crowded. [with people] from all parts of the world.
“I think the best way to describe it is that every Premier League game was an event. The start, before during, after, people have an opinion about you, your players and your team. Post analysis of how you did. It was amazing, so many scrutiny and you have to be careful not to take it to heart.
“We had a fabulous first season so a lot of good things were said about us. It was a fabulous season unfortunately we couldn’t continue.”
While he can’t help but point out his own potential shortcomings, Wilder is, overall, happy with his contribution.
“Of course, there are a few situations that I could and should have handled differently. Inside, I know I’m not arrogant enough to think I got it all right. Relationships, lines of communication, some signatures. that we have done Some things that, in hindsight, I would have done differently.
“But in the heat of the moment you are on the front lines and you have to make those decisions. I would like to think for this club that I have made more good decisions than bad ones. But it happens in everything, in n ‘No matter what relationship or any line of work you work in, no one succeeds all the time. “
“You want to get involved in a passionate and dynamic club”
The time Wilder spent at his childhood club means he’s no stranger to a club with a passionate, history-steeped fan base.
He was in command as the Blades emerged from the unknown depths of Ligue 1 – where they had endured three failed play-off campaigns – through the championship and returned to the Premier League.
Wilder expects to embark on a similar job as a firefighter again in the future.
“I don’t think there is a perfect club or job. There will always be some dodging or situations where it’s not exactly the way you want it to be. But you want to work with people who go into the same. management and there is always a difficult question to answer because each club has its own dynamic.
“Unless you’re David Beckham at Inter Miami, where you can start your own club, you still have to deal with owners, punters, etc. Usually you walk into a broken club. work wouldn’t surprise me if I walked into a club in bad shape, and I have to use my qualities to turn the tide.
“You want to be involved in a club that is connected and that has passion and drive, and that can be brought to the table by a lot of people: supporters, owners, managers, players. I really enjoyed my journey.”
“I would be open to different opportunities”
As the next chapter in Chris Wilder’s story unfolds, the 53-year-old is refreshingly open about where his career can take him, whether at home or abroad.
“I like the English game, but I would be open to different opportunities. America really intrigues me. The attitude of Americans towards sport and business, how they run their business and sport in general, how professional they are It’s gone for the World Cup in 2026.
“You look at every opportunity at its face value; the history, the support, the infrastructure, the facilities. I think I’ve done enough to be selective without wanting to get my hands dirty. If anything happened in League One that I thought I had the ambition to move forward [I would be interested].
“I would really love to work in the Premier League. The league is very likely and it’s a brilliant division. It’s rare for an English manager to be offered a chance at the top clubs, I understand that. You usually have to take a the club up. “
It goes without saying that he won’t be on his way to Hillsborough, however.
“I would never take this work, just to record that, ”he says with a smile. “Ian Holloway used to say that players can’t have red cars in the Bristol Rovers parking lot. I agree with him!
“I couldn’t do it and I don’t think they would want me. It’s part of my personality, my upbringing and my history. I couldn’t do it. But secondly, I don’t think that. they would never want me. “