James Shield's Sheffield United Column: Players are not the only ones who deserve rewarding...managers and coaches do too
Rugby League followers used to complain that, if Harold Bishop applied for a coaching role in England, he would probably get the job.
The insinuation being, of course, that an Australian, any Australian, was automatically viewed as superior to homegrown candidates by the chairman of Super League and Championship clubs. Whether they knew the difference between Roger Millward and Nell Mangel or not.
Our football supporters, or domestic managers to be absolutely accurate, know where their cousins of an oval ball persuasion are coming from. How else can you explain the fact Everton were prepared to pay the best part of £10m to secure Marco Silva’s services yet not, despite his track record of success, give Shaun Dyche a second glance?
Sheffield United fans should be glad the owners of England’s top-flight teams are predisposed to looking abroad for coaching talent because, even thought his side enter tomorrow’s game against Aston Villa without a win in five outings, Chris Wilder would surely have been considered for a vacancy by now. Fingers, toes and everything else crossed he never is but, given his achievements in post so far, the 50-year-old certainly warrants a place on someone’s short-list.
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Which is why, in order to guard against a shift in thinking, Bramall Lane’s board of directors should consider handing him a new, extended contract now. After all, if players such as John Fleck and Jack O’Connell warrant fresh terms long before their present deals run-out, it would seem logical that the person ultimately responsible for identifying, signing and improving them is then similarly rewarded.
To their credit, United’s hierarchy did exactly that earlier this year after, less than 12 months after taking charge of a side which had sleepwalked through the previous season, he delivered the League One title in emphatic style. So although some folk will argue, quite understandably, that further negotiations can wait, it is worth remembering that David Brooks, having only just put pen to paper on an enhanced agreement, quickly saw it improved again following his call-up by Wales.
Wilder, a lifelong United fan and former player, shows no inclination to jump ship. Indeed, I would wager a fair few dollars that restoring and consolidating their Premier League status is his greatest ambition in the game. But fidelity should never be taken for granted. Nor the bias which apparently pervades some of this country’s most opulently appointed boardrooms.
Having led United to sixth in the Championship table on a budget which suggests they should be languishing in 19th, it makes footballing common sense to tie down Wilder, his assistant Alan Knill, Matt Prestridge and head of recruitment Paul Mitchell. And, given that the value of their squad has risen exponentially during his reign, it would seem financially prudent too.