Chris Wilder and Newcastle United: The view from both sides after ex-Sheffield United boss is linked with Steve Bruce's job

Chris Wilder was never going to be short of offers when he left Sheffield United a little under two weeks ago.

By Danny Hall and Miles Starforth
Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 5:30 pm

And already he’s begun to be linked with high-profile jobs, outside of the initial two who were said to be interested in bringing in the popular boss.

As The Star has reported, West Brom and Celtic are understood to be keen on Wilder, the latter without a manager since Neil Lennon’s departure last month.

And the latest link comes from the North East, with it being reported that Newcastle United are keeping an eye on the 53-year-old’s situation.

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Former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder, left, has been linked with Steve Bruce's job at Newcastle United. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Having fallen out with the hierarchy at Bramall Lane, getting involved with Mike Ashley would appear to be very much a case of out of the frying pan…

However, there’s no doubting the pull of St James’ Park so we got the opinions on any potential move, from the Shields Gazette’s Newcastle United writer Miles Starforth and The Star’s Blades reporter Danny Hall.

The Sheffield United view

Chris Wilder would be an inspired appointment for Newcastle United, if the chance came around - but with one very important caveat.

He must be allowed to do things his own way. So often, owners and chairmen bring in a new boss, presumably because they think he is the best man to manage their club, and then don't allow them to do that. So if Mike Ashley has any plans to stick his nose in, then forget it. If not, there is no better out of work manager that would be a better fit.

Wilder has been here before, of course. When he took over Sheffield United in 2016, they were at a really low ebb and relatively speaking, there appear to be parallels with Newcastle at the minute.

Fans appear disengaged, players don't seem to be pulling their weight, and from the outside, a giant football club looks to just be ... treading water.

Wilder would tear that up in a heartbeat. He is a master at revitalising clubs in the doldrums and although there isn't the obvious connection he enjoyed with Blades supporters, because he was one of them, he will recognise that Geordies love their club, and know their football.

He would get them onside by speaking their language, calling a spade a spade. He would look to play attacking football, on the front foot. And if he got it right, got those supporters on board, then Newcastle would be a force under him that would take some stopping.

The Newcastle United view

Mike Ashley doesn’t want to sack Steve Bruce. That much, we know.

What we don’t know is if anything will change Ashley’s mind. And, if it did, who would he turn to?

Newcastle United are teetering above the relegation zone after an abject run of two wins from 18 Premier League games.

Bruce’s position became untenable after Saturday night’s shocking defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, and the club has been linked with a move for Chris Wilder, out of work since his dismissal as Sheffield United manager earlier this month.

Is this an opportunity for Wilder - who did a phenomenal job at Bramall Lane - to quickly return to the game?

Wilder had a long chat with Bruce after Newcastle’s 1-0 defeat to Wilder’s previously-winless side in January, and he will know at least some of the challenges that his counterpart has faced at the club.

Ashley’s managerial appointments, with a few notable exceptions, have been seen as “yes men” by fans. Wilder, however, does things his way.

The 53-year-old, certainly, would bring new ideas to the club, though he wouldn’t have time to implement too much if he was to take charge this season.

It’s also been suggested that Wilder would be ideal to take the club out of the Championship, but there are still nine Premier League games left to play this season.

Those games should be the club’s sole focus, and what the club seemingly needs, right now, is someone to take charge, initially, on a short-term basis - just as Rafa Benitez did in 2016.