Sheffield United: Chris Wilder a worthy, deserved winner of LMA manager of the year award despite Norwich City’s outcry over Daniel Farke

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder capped a stellar season, both individually and collectively, on Tuesday evening when he beat the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp to the prestigious LMA manager of the year award.

Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 1:48 pm
Updated Wednesday, 15th May 2019, 2:47 pm

Wilder was also named Championship manager of the year after leading his Blades, with what he described as a bottom-eight budget. to a top-two finish and a place in the Premier League along with deserved champions Norwich City.

United, City and Leeds were involved in a three-way battle for promotion for much of the season, before Daniel Farke's Canaries pulled away and finished five points clear at the top of the pile.

Wilder beat off competition from Farke, as well as the likes of Manchester City chief Guardiola and Klopp, of Liverpool, to win the top award, as voted for by managers of the 92 professional clubs in England.

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Yet the decision attracted some derision online from City fans including BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey, who tweeted: "Enjoyable evening at the LMA Awards with my BT Sport pals. Still can’t work out why Farke isn’t winning manager of the year awards."

On its own, it's a fair question. The German has assembled a brilliant and vibrant young team at Carrow Road, which deservedly lifted the Championship title. Players like Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendía were revelations.

But to decry Wilder's achievements because they finished behind Norwich in the table - which some supporters, not Humphrey, have suggested - does the Blades a disservice. For one, what kind of award would it be if it went to the manager of the team that finished top of each division every year?

Chris Wilder, the manager of Sheffield United: James Wilson/Sportimage

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It'd render the whole exercise completely pointless and for that reason, Barnsley's Daniel Stendel can perhaps count himself unfortunate not to win the League One award. It instead went to Mick Harford, who was in charge of champions Luton for less than half of the season.

The wider context around City and United's success matters, too. City have been receipt of the Premier League's parachute payment since their relegation from the top-flight in 2015/16 - a season United finished 11th in League One - and although it's fair to say they haven't bought the league with Wolves-style spending, they've hardly done it on a shoestring either - paying Jordan Rhodes' full wages of more than £40,000 a week on a season-long loan from Wednesday on top of a £1m loan fee.

Others have pointed to the fact they lost James Maddison in the summer - just as United cashed in on David Brooks - and looking at it objectively, the two managers and clubs probably have more similarities than they do differences.

Although City's squad has a more continenal feel to it, their success - like United's - has mostly been based on buying young, hungry and talented players who can improve and grow with the club. Many of United's promotion-winning squad were with the club in League One, while Wilder has guided United into the calmer waters of the top-flight amid a seastorm in the boardroom as the club's co-owners fight for control of the club.

Either would have been worthy winners of an award voted for by their fellow peers, as would Guardiola or Klopp. For both, the only prize that really matters has already been secured.