Chris Wilder reveals the secret behind Sheffield United’s remarkable journey from League One to the Premier League
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is a throwback.
He stands in opposition to many of the things we associate, and perhaps dislike, about modern football.
The 51-year-old has taken his boyhood club from the foot of League One to the Premier League in less than three years – and he’s done it the old fashioned way.
“It’s not just about chucking a load of dough at it and signing players,” he told talkSPORT.
“It’s about knitting a team together, organisation, team spirit, work ethic and tactically playing in a way that suits you to gain results.”
The Blades are not one of the Championship’s financial powerhouses – and Wilder also comes from humble beginnings.
After starting out at non-league Alfreton Town in 2001, he landed his dream job at Bramall Lane following spells at Halifax Town, Oxford United and Northampton Town.
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Entering the Premier League, dominated by foreign managers, the Englishman believes he has proved an important point.
“I’ve struck a blow for the honest, hard-working man that can drive himself to the top of the table. I used to coach my pals on a Sunday morning when I got up on time,” he added.
“There’s a lot said about foreign coaches but hopefully I’ve given a ray of light to English coaches that can do it. I know there are a lot of coaches out there that can do it.”
Wilder is overwhelmed with pride, not only with guiding his team to the Premier League, but also with the way he’s done it.
The Blades still have the same spine of players they had in League One, with club captain Billy Sharp leading their climb up the Football League.
“To put ourselves back on the map is absolutely incredible and I’m proud to be involved in it,” Wilder continued.
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“We had a struggle to get out of the division [League One] for a few years. We had to reconnect with the supporters and find a style that was suited to the division.
“We wanted to carry that into the Championship. We never changed our approach. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win every game of football by the character and the attitude of the players.
“The journey started with the likes of [Chris] Basham, [John] Fleck, Enda Stevens, Jacko [Jack O’Connell], and Billy Sharp. Five or six of the team that will be playing in the Premier League next year started the journey off in League One.”
Wilder knows an unimaginable challenge faces his side next year – but he is relishing the prospect.
“I went to Man United vs Man City on Wednesday,” Wilder said. “The feeling of walking through the tunnel at Old Trafford and there’s 73,000 people there. I thought, ‘I’ll have a little bit of this with our players.’”
However, he jokes that he may need to change his pre-match approach.
“Every opposition, we go through their team and put weaknesses and strengths. Now I’m thinking I can’t do that next year!”
Source: SportsLatest TS