Chris WilderEmbed from Getty Images
Chris Wilder is the man on every Albion fans’ lips. He is an extremely likeable, charismatic, no-nonsense manager that many a club would welcome with open arms.
Wilder’s managerial career started in non-league with Alfreton Town. He joined the club in late October 2001 and during his time in charge won four trophies: the Northern Counties (East) League Premier Division, the League Cup, the President’s Cup and the Derbyshire Senior Cup.
After a short stint at Halifax Town, Wilder joined yet another non-league outfit, this time in Oxford United. In his first season with the club, he guided them to the playoffs, where they beat York City in the final and earned promotion to the Football League.
Wilder then spent a further three seasons at Oxford United, consolidating their Football League status with three mid-table finishes.
In January 2014, Wilder decided to jump ship to Northampton Town, also in League Two, where he saved the club from relegation to the conference. In his first full season, he then guided the club to the League Two title and promotion to League One.
After building up a reputation as both a survival-specialist and promotion-winner Wilder joined his boyhood club Sheffield United as they faltered in League One. Emulating his success at Northampton Town, Wilder led the Blades to a 100-point season, promotion to the Championship, setting a club record in the process.
Wilder’s success only continued as he moved up the football pyramid as he achieved promotion to the Premier League in his second season in the Championship. In fact, Sheffield United finished second as Albion lingered in fourth-placed during that 2018/19.
Undoubtedly, though, Wilder’s biggest achievement came in the Premier League. The Blades, condemned by many to go down before Christmas, eventually finished ninth and until the COVID-19-induced break, looked set to make European football. This was their best finish since 1992 and a huge achievement given much of the squad remained the same from the Blades’ League One days.
Wilder’s reputation should not be tarnished by Sheffield United’s poor performance this season. There were problems behind the scenes for Wilder and the club’s owners; their recruitment policies were also very poor. Combined with an ageing, unqualified squad, and an empty Bramall Lane, Sheffield United”s failure comes as no surprise. If anything, it only further highlights what an incredible job Wilder did last season.
Whatever club Wilder has taken on, he has achieved success. He knows how to stay in a league and get out of one. He knows how to build a tough, resilient and energetic side and he knows how to take on a fan base. He is the most qualified for the job and if Wilder is up for the challenge, then Albion’s board needs to move quickly.