Column: Chris Wilder deserves more respect than fans calling for his head... he shouldn't be sacked even if Sheffield United didn't win another game this season
Let's get this out of the way right at the beginning. Any Sheffield United fan seriously calling for manager Chris Wilder to be sacked needs to give their head an almighty wobble.
Yes, it's a game of opinions. Yes, the season's results so far have been difficult viewing, to say the least. Yes, the Blades need to be better.
But here's my take on those extreme, minority views that have amplified again following Sunday's defeat at home to West Ham.
There is, quite simply, no manager within United's realistic grasp that could get more out of this squad than Wilder.
I would even go so far as to say he shouldn't be sacked even if United don't win another game all season, for that same reason.
That won’t happen. There is too much talent and character at the club for that to happen.
But that isn't to say everything at Bramall Lane is rosy and questions shouldn't be asked. United's current run, of one win in nine league games, will be giving Wilder sleepless nights as he searches for a way to arrest it.
But he is also unquestionably the man to do so. To give United's fanbase - not one often known for its patience and understanding in times of trouble - its credit, most seem to recognise that.
But empty vessels often do make the most noise and in recent weeks, the occasional 'Wilder Out' post has become more proficient on the cesspits of social media. Such is the nature of the beast, those calls will likely increase in volume and vitriol the longer this run goes on.
The question these fans never seem to answer, once they have pulled the pin out of the grenade and are questioned by those of more reasonable mind, is probably the simplest. 'Who next, then?'
There isn't anyone. Such is the scale of the job Wilder has undertaken at Bramall Lane.
His biggest detractors point to the amount of money Wilder has spent on his squad, and his loyalty to his 3-5-2 system that last season took the Blades to the brink of European football before a global pandemic shifted the landscape considerably.
It's true that an outlay of well over £100m is unheard of at Sheffield United. The trouble is that, by Premier League standards, that is chicken feed, even before the real issue of wages is taken into account. One player linked with United in the summer ended up moving for a fee which could rise to over £30m and is thought to earn in the region of £75,000 a week. At the time of his move, he hadn't played a single game in the Premier League.
Like it or loathe it, this is the pond that United are currently fishing in. Signing proven Premier League quality is beyond them financially, and so is the cream of the crop from the Championship some times as well.
Until a time when that wage ceiling can be nudged to the next level, United simply have to go about things a different way. And in that respect, having taken the club from League One to the Premier League with a record signing of £4m, there are few better than the man in the dugout now.
Even by football standards, the people genuinely saying ‘Wilder Out’ have short memories and a huge lack of perspective.
Concerns about United's current situation are completely understandable. Deep down, the manager will probably understand why questions are being asked.