Alan Biggs: How to solve the rift between Chris Wilder and Sheffield United's owners? Give it a year
Divisions may be deep, but there is one thing on which all at Sheffield United should be able to agree.
There simply has to be a rapid resolution one way or the other. And that’s why I don’t see the incendiary issue of Chris Wilder’s future blazing on beyond the end of the season.
However, I do feel there is room for compromise - based around the likelihood of Wilder cutting back on his squad, accepting to sign only loan players for next season and being prepared to stand down in 12 months if his strategy doesn’t succeed.
Parking the differences for a year and agreeing to part then if things don’t work out is surely the most sensible route to continuity?
The manager himself has brought matters to a head. His criteria for continuing are clear and unconditional.
But then so, from what you hear, is the board’s resolve to restructure the club in a way that would make Wilder more a head coach than manager.
Despite hopes for middle ground, dragging this on through the summer would be destructive to all involved, including the club and Wilder if they then split for a fresh start.
So what about this for a sort of solution - simply suspend the argument? Agree to continue as now into next season, allow Wilder to operate as before. If it doesn’t work out in the form of a promotion bid, both parties to shake hands and move on?
That way, there is no loss of face. Certainly, the PR aspect, the way things would look, is for me a considerable barrier to what is the best way forward for all concerned.
Which I believe is to hold tight, keep the best players, back the manager as before and trust in his proven abilities. In effect, do nothing different.
For public consumption, both parties can say they’ve held discussions and agreed on the immediate way ahead, keeping other considerations on hold.
I would imagine these to be roughly Wilder’s main terms;-* Keep all the best players where possible.* Recruit only with hand-picked loans - perhaps four or five to cover up to around seven fringe players leaving.* Continue the current recruitment model, spearheaded by Wilder and CEO Steve Bettis.* Make an immediate start to the promised training ground upgrade.
I am convinced that, by return, Wilder would agree to depart without recrimination if a minimum of a play-off place was not achieved next season.
There is only one outcome outside of that, the way I see it. A negotiated contractual departure by mutual consent.
Wilder much prefers to stay. He doesn’t want to stage a walk-out, either.
Equally, Prince Abdullah’s board surely cannot consider sacking outright one of the best and most popular managers in the club’s history. The backlash would be on a scale seldom before seen.
So again, it makes sense to park everything. Not least for United’s chances of returning to the Premier League and preserving the club’s valuation at an estimated very healthy £250m, mostly generated by Wilder.
Far better than halving it by staying down. Far better than the radical step of bringing in a head coach under a director of football.