Chris Wilder on the regrets he still feels after Sheffield United departure and his next job
It seems like it won’t be long now before we see Chris Wilder back on the touchline as a manager.
Just this week he’s been linked with the Nottingham Forest post, vacated by Chris Hughton, and after a six month break from a job that he’s been doing for 20 years the former Sheffield United boss is clearly itching to get back to the grindstone.
That period out of the game – by far the longest he’s had since beginning his footballing journey as an apprentice at Southampton as a teenager – has allowed Wilder a little time to reflect on his career and perhaps more specifically how things ended at the club he loves.
To put it lightly, a difference of opinion as to how things were being run at Bramall Lane spelled the end of an era for the Blades, one that dragged a fallen giant back to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the the best clubs in the country and indeed the world.
Regrets, he’s had a few, and Wilder admits that perhaps those final stages of his time at his beloved United could have been very different, something that he holds his hands up and admits to have played a big part in.
“There are a few situations I should have handled differently,” he told the League of 72 YouTube channel. “I'm not going to come out and say [what it was] because it's not the right time but inwardly yes, I have [thought about that].
"I'm not arrogant enough to think I got everything right. There are certain things that I didn't get right, whether it's the relationships, lines of communication, situations on the pitch, off the pitch, signings we made. Certain things that in hindsight I would have done a little bit different but you are on the eve of a battle, you are at the coalface and you have to make those decisions.
"I would like to think that for that football club I have made more right decisions than wrong decisions but certainly I look back and think I could and should have handled that situation a little bit better and I think that happens in everything.
"Whether it be your relationship, with your kids, whatever line of work you are in, I don't think anyone gets it completely right all the time.”
Despite the break in relations, Wilder’s love for the Blades hasn’t and probably never will diminish.
"I’m incredibly proud to bring the club back together again,” he added. “Regardless of the incredible experiences we had through that period of winning games... the first season; getting to 100 points; the second season; the first time playing our rivals for a bit, so there was experiences in that [beating Wednesday 4-2]; back into the Championship where the club should be, minimum, having had six years outside the Championship and the journey into the Premier League. Even the experiences in the season that didnt go so well.
"There was a huge disconnect in every part of that football club that I felt that, because I was still living in the city.
"To bring that little bit of pride back into the badge from a playing point of view, what the players were doing, what we were doing together... I always thought the club was at its best when it was a together, connected club and it certainly was.”
Now Wilder is hoping to use the vast experience he has garnered from working from the lowest level up to take up the next challenge and he admits that whatever he takes on will require him to call upon what he learned at every one of those clubs he has previously managed.
I don't think there's a perfect club, I don't think there will ever be a perfect club. There's going to be a dodge, there's always going to be a situation isn't exactly how you want it to run but it's a difficult question to answer because every club has their different dynamics of how they are run and unless you are David Beckham at Inter Miami where you can build your own football club then you have to deal with owners, CEOs, you have got to deal with punters, you have got manage up, you have got to manage sideways, you have got to manage down.
"There's always different situations,” he added. “Usually you walk into a different football club that's broken.
I walked into my first job 20 years ago at a football club that should have been doing better but it wasn't.
"I walked into the Halifax one, who had just been relegated from the Football League. I walked into the Oxford one that was 11th, 12th in the Conference.
"I walked into the Northampton one that was bottom of League Two at Christmas. I walked into the Sheffield United one that had finished 12th in League One and had six seasons in there.
"No doubt in my next job, I'd be very surprised if I don't walk into something that's broken and I have got to use my experience and my qualities and people around me to get them back up and running as we have done in the previous one.
"You always want to be involved in a football club that is really connected and has a passion and a drive and that can be brought to the table by a lot of people - supporters, owners, managers, players or whatever.”