Wilder’s protracted departure from Bramall Lane was confirmed on Saturday evening, the night before United travelled to Leicester and were mauled by a Foxes side who are determined not to miss out on Champions League football for a second season in a row.
Paul Heckingbottom, who will lead United for the rest of the season after Wilder’s departure, admitted afterwards that his players were “emotional” in the away dressing room after a dramatic few days in the club’s recent history.
And O’Hara said: “Did you hear the coach, I think it was Heckingbottom, come out and say that after getting battered by Leicester, the players came in and said that they miss Wilder?
“Honestly, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “We miss Wilder?” Get a grip of yourselves. Players have got to take some responsibility, haven’t they? The amount of excuses you see from footballers.”
Considering the outlet they were expressed on, O’Hara’s comments were probably more designed to create debate rather than be taken seriously.
But taken at face value, they seriously undermine the strength of connection between Wilder and the players – Chris Basham and Billy Sharp aside – that he brought to the club and, for the most part, moulded into Premier League players.
Sharp, who was made United captain by Wilder soon after he inherited the United job in 2016, looked visibly close to tears in his post-match interview as he digested the events of the past 48 hours which rocked this club.
Who can blame Sharp and his teammates for feeling emotional? There would be bigger problems and concerns if they weren’t.
As a society, we seem to spend a strange amount of time and energy bemoaning footballers for being aloof and disconnected, and then when United’s players showed the very understandable emotion on Sunday, they are criticised for that.
O’Hara’s only managerial role to date was at Billericay, where he spent just over a year. If this is the extent of his understanding of players and people, it’s likely to be his last.