Alan Biggs at Large: Blades boss Chris Wilder set to take the game to League One opponents next season
Much has been made of the non-essential nature of Chris Wilder being a Blade.
Neil Warnock even reckoned being a Sheffield United supporter hampered him to a degree.
People tend to vent their frustrations on their nearest and dearest. Warnock’s status ranked little above the fan in the next seat when times were tough.
But a little of that sort of fire has gone out at Bramall Lane. Well, actually most of it. The passion is there but no-one has known quite where to direct it.
For much of last season the most natural emotion – anger - was aimed everywhere before finally settling on a manager who tried to whistle a happy tune and therefore never quite got in tune with the crowd.
At least that key connect is in place straight away with former player and lifelong supporter Wilder, who’s made a characteristically no-nonsense start by releasing ten players and listing seven.
No wonder a prominent Sheffield footballing figure, who also managed the club he supported, reckons United “will do well next season.”
The fact that the message comes from a cross-city rival, a former Wednesday player and boss, shouldn’t really matter. It might just as easily have been delivered by the aforementioned Warnock. Before the boos and hisses, an invitation to hear out Gary Megson on this because he does know a little of what he speaks.
“Chris coming back to his own club will mean a huge amount to him,” says Megson.
“I look at myself and what it meant to me to manage Wednesday. This will be a huge drive for Chris. I think you’ll see high tempo football and it’ll be just about results, nothing else. Pressing football, difficult to stop. Start at a high tempo and tear into the opposition.”
If Wilder is not nodding in agreement over that then I don’t know the man. All managers have their favoured methods and the success Nigel Adkins has had previously deserves to be acknowledged. But you are unlikely to hear phrases like “passing through the thirds” under his successor. I doubt there’ll be much sideways shuffling across the back line either, giving the opposition more time to line up behind the ball.
What struck me when occasionally watching Wilder’s Northampton was how quickly they moved the ball and how the movement was mostly forwards. It’s the kind of football associated with United’s most successful periods of the modern era under, first, Dave Bassett and then Warnock.
Wilder now needs the pieces in place to play it. He has swept the board first. Eyes down, look in for a busy summer.