'Careful what you wish for' - Paul Merson fires warning at Sheffield United amid Wilder exit reports

Paul Merson has argued that Sheffield United should be “careful what they wish for” as Chris Wilder looks set to depart the club.

By Jason Jones
Saturday, 13th March 2021, 1:00 pm
Chris Wilder, Manager of Sheffield United. (Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images)

News broke on Friday that the 53-year-old is expected to leave Bramall Lane after a five-year spell that has seen him take the Blades from League One to the Premier League.

Languishing at the foot of the table, it looks increasingly likely that United will be relegated to the Championship this season, but the Sky Sports pundit has spoken previously about how important he believes retaining Wilder could be in terms of allowing the club to bounce back to the top flight at the first time of asking.

And the former Arsenal man reiterated his claims on this afternoon’s edition of Soccer Saturday.

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He said: “The job he’s done at Sheffield United a phenomenal job to take them from where they were.

"Everywhere he’s been he’s been successful. Take this season away – we expected this season last season, let’s be honest, but they punched so much above their weight.

"They’ve had big injuries this season with the back three that really were their main boys in my opinion because people just couldn’t get used to the way they played.

"Everywhere he’s been, he’s a winner. They’ll be queuing up to get him, absolutely queuing up for him.

"You’ve got to careful what you wish for, Sheffield United because for me, if you keep Chris Wilder, he’s back. He’ll bring them back.

"I don’t see them coming back without him”.

By contrast, BBC pundit has suggested that Wilder has to be held accountable in some capacity for the patchy transfer business that the Blades have conducted in recent windows.

Speaking on Radio 5 Live, he said: “From the owner’s point of view, he would probably say, ‘I’ve backed you in the market’.

“This season alone, Rhian Brewster came in for £24 million, Aaron Ramsdale for £18 million. Oliver Burke, Max Lowe Jayden Bogle. There are a lot of players that came in.

“I imagine the conversation was more about quality and what is needed in the Premier League to go to that next level. He [Wilder] obviously feels he was banging against a door that wasn’t open when he was taking certain players at a certain price tag to help keep Sheffield United in the league.

“He obviously feels like he wasn’t supported in that and has decided to make it more vocal. Which I thought was at a strange time as well.

“But essentially there’s been a breakdown in terms of what each other wants. It seems pretty inevitable what the outcome is going to be.”

United come up against Leicester City in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon, with U23s boss Paul Heckingbottom expected to take charge of that clash.

The Blades currently sit 12 points adrift of safety with 10 games left to play in the top flight, and have won a paltry four games so far this season, drawing two more and losing the other 22.