'How do you follow that?' - Warnock reacts to Chris Wilder's Sheffield United exit

Sky pundit Stephen Warnock has argued that whoever replaces Chris Wilder as Sheffield United’s next permanent manager faces a “very difficult job”.

By Jason Jones
Monday, 15th March 2021, 11:05 am
Chris Wilder, Manager of Sheffield United. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Chris Wilder, Manager of Sheffield United. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

The 53-year-old left Bramall Lane over the weekend after five years with the Blades, during which he guided the club from mid-table obscurity in League One to the top half of the Premier League.

This season has been a much more challenging campaign for United, however, and they currently find themselves rooted to the foot of the table, 14 points from safety with nine games left to play.

Any faint hopes of pulling of an unlikely great escape were dealt a major blow by Sunday’s 5-0 defeat at the hands of high-flying Leicester City.

The trip to the King Power Stadium was interim manager Paul Heckingbottom’s first in charge of the Blades, and following dire display, Sky pundit Sue Smith told the Football Show that she felt it was the wrong decision to part company with Wilder.

She said: “That was arguably their worst performance, and it was their biggest defeat of the season.

"When you’ve watched them this season, so many times we’ve said that they’ve only been beaten by a goal and it’s been fine margins.

"But yesterday they were completely outclassed. Yes, a very very good Leicester side on the day, but Sheffield United looked all over the place. It could have actually been more.

"I feel it was completely the wrong decision to let Chris Wilder go. You’d think that they’d have done all they possibly could to try and keep hold of him.

"We obviously don't know the ins and outs of the situation behind the scenes, and it seems to have been going on for a lot longer than we actually knew, but I just think if you were going to go down to the Championship, who’s the man to bring you back? You would feel it would be Chris Wilder”.

Warnock echoed the former England international’s sentiments, and suggested that any prospective boss could be put off by having to follow on from Wilder’s sizeable legacy.

He said: “It’s a great job to take because of the squad of players and the attitude of the players, but it’s not a great job to take when you’re following Chris Wilder.

"Local fan, local boy, ball boy turned fan turned manager – arguably the most successful manager they’ve had in a long time. Incredible job over the five-year period that he’s been there. I wouldn’t want to walk into that dressing room? How do you follow that?

"There’ll be a lot of managers who go, ‘Yes I want that challenge, I’m good enough’. But the only way that you’ll do that is by winning your first four or five games, and doing it in a great way, in a manner that shows the club is playing a certain style of football.

"Very difficult job to walk into. How do you pick those players up now? They owe so much to Chris Wilder. There’s players who have been in that dressing room who have been through it from League One up until the Premier League. They feel like they owe the best parts of their career to him.

"It’s a tough, tough job to follow”.