Chris Wilder made Sheffield United united again - he turned an entire club around and will forever be 'one of our own'

It was Sheffield United's sixth year in League One, as the song goes, when Chris Wilder came home.

Friday, 12th March 2021, 5:30 pm

The Blades was a club on the floor. Years of failing to escape the grasp of the third division had taken its toll, and the malaise of a year under Nigel Adkins had done its own damage in its own way.

For many of those fans who had become angry at the club's plight, that had turned to apathy. Despite all the success and scenes that have followed since, I will never forget the post-match 'lap of appreciation' that Adkins led his players on after they had just finished 11th in League One.

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The club, certainly in my lifetime, was never so disconnected. This is not a club to support for the glory, but even in its darker times there was still some sort of togetherness. This time was different, though.

That is why I believe, for all the games and promotions Wilder earned during his time at Bramall Lane, his biggest achievement came off the field rather than on it. In revitalising a fanbase. In breathing fresh life into a club. In making United united again.

The by-product of that is the outpouring of anger, shock and indeed grief at today's news that his near-five year tenure at Bramall Lane is close to coming to an end.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder celebrates winning promotion to the Championship - Dean Atkins

Those close to the club recognised this day would come - and given events of the past few weeks and months, it was more a case of when than if - but it has done little to dampen the shock as United face up to life without their talismanic manager.

This was not just a job of overhauling United's squad and fortunes. It is no exaggeration to say that Wilder turned the entire club around, from the players on the pitch to the staff in the ticket office. He set United on the right path again and the shockwaves from his departure will be as keenly felt as his whirlwind impact was.

He took United to the very top, as the song continues. And he is, and forever will be, one of their own.