Column: Chris Wilder will bring tenacious qualities to Sheffield United

Sheffield United's new manager Chris Wilder at Bramall Lane
Sheffield United's new manager Chris Wilder at Bramall Lane
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Chris Wilder may have made a ruthless start at Bramall Lane but there is historic evidence that the new Blades chief will appreciate anyone on the fringe of his trimmed-down squad digging in to prove him wrong.

That’s because, as a Sheffield United player, Wilder himself did just that to make an impression on the manager who has gone on to mentor his career as a boss. If truth be known, Wilder did not have the smoothest of relationships with the man who has subsequently become his main sounding board.

Dave Bassett

Dave Bassett

But it was his tenacity in refusing to accept the Blades had a better right back during their back-to-back bounce from the third tier to the Premier League that helped persuade Dave Bassett he was made of the right stuff for management.

Bassett, quick to hail Wilder’s appointment as opposed to some previous choices, recalls: “Chris had a hard time surviving under me. When I arrived with United in 1988 he was already here.

“I dropped him quite a few times. I rated Chris a good player technically but when we got to the Premier League I didn’t think he was quick enough or athletic enough for that level. But he always showed his resilience.

“There were quite a few occasions when Chris had the hump with me but he wouldn’t give in, just kept battling. I always liked him for that and he’s brought it into management.”

The approval of United’s most successful manager of the modern era – a no-nonsense character who has been conspicuously silent over some of the Blades’ decision-making of recent times – gives Wilder a head start.

Bassett also tells this column: “Picking someone who knows what this club is all about is important. Someone who understands the city, the passion of the supporters and what they expect.

“But he’s there because he’s done well at all his previous clubs. A good choice for me and I’m delighted for him.”

Meanwhile, key board changes remain afoot amid question marks over Prince Abdullah’s continuing involvement. When I look at who effectively decided the Nigel Adkins firing (eventually) and certainly the Wilder hiring it was (co) chairman Kevin McCabe. Food for thought.