Alan Biggs' Sheffield United column: Why the Blades must hand new contract to down Chris Wilder - right now!
If they haven’t already, Sheffield United should move to tie up Chris Wilder and Alan Knill. Again. Right now.
No matter for the second time inside five months. Do it.
Before the inevitability of an overture from elsewhere arrives - with at least six rival Premier League managers currently treading shifting sand.
It’s not simply about Wilder’s name being in widespread circulation.
That rightly goes with the territory of being a rampantly over-achieving manager. A compliment to the man and also his club at a time of quite blinding brilliance from the Blades.
No, it’s the small detail missing from the “announcement” of Wilder’s most recent contract signing at Bramall Lane that still worries me.
You may not have noticed this - simply because, as I say, it was missing.
There was no quote from the man himself - not a line. In fact, I struggle to find a single public word uttered by Wilder on the subject.
Which is/was strange considering it was “a new three-year contract” signed last summer amid the euphoria of the Blades’ return to the Premier League.
There could have been reasons, of course - and I’ll come to those - but I mention now because nobody should feel complacent about keeping this management team in place.
If he’s among the lowest paid at this level, as some suspect, that simply should not be the case. At a time when Arsenal, Everton, Southampton, West Ham, Watford and, yes, Manchester United are soul-searching on their managers.
It’s no exaggeration that Wilder would be guaranteed consideration, at least, for almost any Premier League job that came up. As some inevitably will soon.
He’s also being championed by some as a future England manager.
Blades fans are trying to block their ears to all this and you can’t blame them. I’ve felt a tendency to do the same. Because no-one who supports, or covers, the Blades wants to lose this manager.
But it doesn’t surprise to hear Wilder talked of in these terms. And it would be foolish to ignore one of the realities of the game; successful managers will always be in demand. They also know their own worth, regardless of emotional ties.
The good news is that Wilder would have no wish or desire to leave.
Certainly not at this stage when he is continuing to build his beloved club to potentially one of the highest in the land, a long process for permanence.
Which is where we return to the contract he penned in July.
Strangely, I don’t even recall it being reported on the club’s official site.
It was relayed in the media with accompanying comments “on behalf of the board” from chief executive Stephen Bettis - and no comment from Wilder himself.
Now it could be that he was on holiday. It was certainly true that the club’s owners were engaged in a stand-off. And no-one wanted to pick a hole in anything at that time.
But - call me overly-suspicious - I found the lack of an easily-obtained manager comment conspicuous by its absence and still do.
It was surely, was it not, another milestone of personal delight?
Whatever, the point is that United should do everything competitively possible to ringfence the club’s greatest asset - while they can.
And we’ll know that for sure when it’s shouted from the rooftops - by all concerned.