Too much to throw away. For everyone involved. That’s this column’s bottom line on the political turmoil at Sheffield United and why it is hopeful Chris Wilder will stay.
Call it wishful thinking or blind optimism but cold logic would suggest there HAS to be a solution to the nightmare scenario of United losing their best manager since Neil Warnock and potentially one who can rival or even outstrip the achievements of Dave Bassett. And a solution to Wilder’s nightmare scenario also; of feeling he has to walk away from the firm base he has created.
It makes no sense surely for this to happen. Who wins? No-one. Who loses? Everyone. I could be wrong, of course, but it’s not only my heart telling me Wilder can be persuaded to remain but my head as well.
Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah were reportedly scheduled to come face to face this week. It would not surprise me if a meeting of the club’s owners has already happened by a distance of some days. Actual events nearly always run ahead of the story as it it relayed. It gives the protagonists breathing space for fine detail.
If so, that is encouraging in itself. The Wilder issue has always been in their hands. Whichever of the owners is to take sole control in the future – as one seemingly must – is beside the point where planning for next season is concerned. Have they been able to isolate this from the potentially protracted legal ramifications of their dispute? That said, Wilder’s stance has been no idle threat. It could have remained private but it has been best – for everyone – that he put a fierce spotlight upon it. The alternative – a summer of quiet stagnation – does not bear thinking about.
As for Sunderland’s genuine interest, it is attractive. Wilder is not the only Championship manager who would find appeal in it, despite the parlous state of a club relegated twice in two seasons and languishing in the third tier. A new owner – one the Blades boss happens to know – makes it an enticing alternative, based on the potential of a bigger club than United.
But there are only so many times a man can start again in a career – as Wilder did in leaving Oxford to rescue Northampton. He’s 50 and with 17 years in the job, not the young manager some still bizarrely suppose him to be. And there is the uprooting of a family to consider besides building a new management team and structure, overhauling an entire squad of players.
Here, most of those things are in place. A settled lifestyle in his home city, a much-desired job with the club he supports, a strong backroom staff and a formidable squad of players needing just a few strategic additions to go forward from strength.
It’s a no-brainer really. But then so is ensuring Wilder has the conditions to build rather than dismantle. I apologise for raising hopes if this proves false. They say it’s the hope that kills you.
But there are other ways of doing the same thing. Hopefully the powers that be are deviating from that route.