Alan Biggs at Large: Why Chris Wilder has the seal of approval from one of Sheffield United’s best-ever managers

Chris Wilder on the touchline at the Macron Stadium
Chris Wilder on the touchline at the Macron Stadium
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Sheffield United’s last fan-manager is taking pleasure in the club’s turnaround under Chris Wilder. From afar, he likes what he sees.

Neil Warnock, the last boss to lift the Blades into the Premier League, also knows there’s one disadvantage of being a supporter of the team you manage.

Neil Warnock in 1999, after taking over at Sheffield United

Neil Warnock in 1999, after taking over at Sheffield United

And it’s not necessarily what you might expect.

While it affords more tolerance at the start, the reverse can become true at a later stage.

“I like the fact they’ve got a Blade in charge,” Warnock told this column.

“But it does open you up to more criticism when things aren’t going so well.”

Whether it’s with families, friends or neighbours, it’s human nature to lash out occasionally at your nearest and dearest.

Wilder, like Warnock before him, could easily be the man next door. Actually, considering he’s a Sheffield resident, that’s literally true for somebody!

But knowing what the public want and having a natural feel for the place have been powerful advantages so far and Warnock, who lasted seven years at Bramall Lane, expects to see a good appointment swiftly rewarded - despite narrow back-to-back losses in league and cup.

“I think United have a great chance of going back to the Championship,” says Neil, working at that level for the second year running and trying to keep Cardiff City up following the miracle he performed at Rotherham United last season.

“Chris realised early on what was needed and ignored any negativity.

“I also like the way he talks. He’s a straight talker. It’s like one fan to another.”

Being blunt by return, Wilder will not need telling he needs more goals from forward positions.

Warnock was always a member of the “you can never have too many strikers” brigade, rotating seven or eight during one spell of his Lane reign.

Wilder isn’t quite so well blessed. It’s four with Marc McNulty out on loan.

But there is more quality in that position than currently reflected by the output – Billy Sharp’s 12 goals totally eclipsing two each from Matt Done and Leon Clarke, while Caolan Lavery, after a delayed start, is yet to register.

Stefan Scougall commands an unlikely second place on five with centre back Ethan Ebanks-Landell on four. Those further upfield have some ground to make up.