Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder could take Sunderland back into the Premier League, says Black Cats legend
Former Sunderland striker Michael Gray believes Chris Wilder could bring the good times back to the Stadium of Light if the Blades boss was to leave Bramall Lane and move to the north east.
The departure of Chris Coleman and a proposed takeover, coupled with Wilder's highly-publicised frustration at the ownership battle which has blighted the end of Sheffield United's season, has seen Wilder placed as the bookies' favourite to become the new Black Cats manager.
After a final day win over Bristol City, Wilder wouldn't further add to his comments made last week, in which he stated that he could walk away from the club he clearly loves if the civil war in the boardroom between co-owners Kevin McCabe and HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud wasn't quickly resolved.
“I’ve talked enough about it,” Wilder said on Sunday. “All of that is for another day. I’ve not wanted to bring what’s happening up but I had to and I thought the timing was right when I did.”
Gray is well connected at Sunderland and has been on Talksport throughout the past week offering updates on the proposed takeover at the Stadium of Light.
Speaking in his role as a pundit on Football on 5, Gray seemingly threw his weight behind a move to take Wilder to Sunderland, who finished a season in which they suffered a second successive relegation, by beating champions Wolves, 3-0.
"He's got the experience of being promoted from that division," said Gray. "I think he'll get the best out of the players. Certainly with the recruitment at the club under the new ownership, it's pretty rosy if everything goes to plan."
Gray, who had a spell at Sheffield Wednesday in his playing career, added: "I think potentially, (Sunderland) is a massive club and if he could achieve (promotion) in his first season and take us into the Championship, with backing, then there's no reason why Chris and his side, or my side, can't go up again. That's what it's all about, I think you've got to get Sunderland and put it step by step, it's not going to happen overnight."
Gray later went on to praise Sheffield United's season, with the Blades finishing 10th in the Championship, which is much higher than many outsiders would have predicted,
"I've got single out Sheffield United," he said. "Top ten finish after promotion from League One, absolutely outstanding from Chris Wilder and they are only going to get better and stronger. They wanted to get themselves into the play-offs but unfortunately they couldn't get there."
Wilder is currently 1/3 favourite with Sky Bet to be the next Sunderland manager, with Leicester City coach Michael Appleton second favourite with odds of 7/2.