Alan Biggs Column: Chris Wilder’s dream job at Sheffield United chronicled in new Blades book

Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United boss
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United boss
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Being manager of the club you support is not some kind of free pass.

Ask Neil Warnock, who often felt it was a disadvantage, despite his success. Ask Micky Adams, who departed Sheffield United after just five months.

Being hailed “one of our own” by Blades fans is the ultimate accolade. Because it says far more about respect, nay reverence, for Chris Wilder as a manager than it does about his affiliation since boyhood.

But it also speaks of the sheer power of that combination when it works. And of how Wilder really is “living the dream” in the truest sense.

Danny Hall’s riveting story of the Wilder revolution, “He’s one of our own”, has the man himself vividly describing what living the dream actually means.

I’m minded of how some managers have deliberately, and understandably, chosen to live outside the area of their clubs. For example, an ex-Blades boss in Danny Wilson (at various clubs). Nigel Pearson and Gary Megson (apart from one spell across the city) also come to mind.

Wilder himself has operated far and wide - and always successfully - outside of his native city.

Coming home to Bramall Lane meant the job being his home and his home the job. “It consumes you and takes hold of you even more when it’s your club,” he says in the book.

Wilder talks of the highs being “higher” and the lows “lower.” Of there being “times when it’s like New Year’s Eve after a win” and “times when I just want to curl up and go to bed.”

His post-match media routine has become something of an emotional Houdini act in not - publicly - getting too high or too low.

Hall’s book brilliantly brings all of those times, mostly the former, vividly to life with accounts from players, staff members and supporters, allied to a great picture gallery of the last two years.

Underlying it all is Wilder’s conviction: “I think I can fulfil all my ambitions at this club.”

Sometimes success is the sweeter the longer you wait for it. Nowhere was the hunger greater than at Sheffield United when “one of their own” took charge. Nowhere was the taste of triumph savoured with more relish.

And, as with the best meals from the best chefs, one of the main ingredients was pure passion. This man wants this club to be his signature dish. 
At no time in my 40 years of covering Sheffield football has the Blades team and supporters been closer together than in Wilder’s first two and a bit seasons.
These days they talk of “products”, “projects” and “makeovers.” But this is the story of a club being shaken back to life. 

“He’s One of Our Own” - the story of Chris Wilder’s Blades Revolution, by Danny Hall, is published by Vertical Editions.