Sheffield United: Why Chris Wilder has personal as well as professional reasons for trying to complete his transfer business long before tomorrow’s deadline
Two years ago, as he was preparing to walk down the aisle with his soon-to-be wife Francesca, Chris Wilder's mobile phone shattered the silence.
Reaching into his pocket and, after checking the identity of the caller before making his apologies, Sheffield United's manager hurried into a side room and began applying the finishing touches to a hastily arranged transfer involving Aaron Ramsdale.
Twenty-four months on, as he recounted the tale of how the young goalkeeper nearly interrupted his big day, Wilder admitted it is impossible to predict how the final hours of this month's window will unfold. But he admitted to having both personal and professional reasons for hoping, if United are still doing business, it is completed early.
"I'm under orders," Wilder joked. "And you can all guess who from. I got married on transfer deadline day a couple of years back. At one o'clock, we sold Aaron to Bournemouth and I was getting all of that sorted out. The ceremony was at two.
"So I should imagine someone will be hoping it's all done and dusted by the time this one comes around. That's what we'll be trying to do."
Speaking earlier this week, Wilder already suspected today would not prove as uneventful as either he or his other half had planned. Although West Ham's attempt to sign John Fleck for a song came out of the blue, United's campaign to capture Scott Hogan was already underway and, given the level of interest in the Aston Villa centre-forward, Wilder had begun briefing his staff it might go right down to the wire.
With Hogan making it clear Bramall Lane, not Bristol City, is his preferred destination, United are expected to officially confirm the 26-year-old's capture tomorrow. So Wilder is set to spend the evening focusing on those deemed surplus to requirements rather than strengthening the options at his disposal.
Hogan's presence has paved the way for Leon Clarke's departure although, in a show of intent, Manuel Pellegrini's approach for Fleck was immediately rebuffed. Nathan Thomas has joined Carlisle on loan after being recalled from Notts County following talks between Wilder and Neal Ardley, his counterpart at Meadow Lane.
With Ardley being appointed in November, four months after Thomas' arrival, United agreed to facilitate his move to Cumbria rather than force County to honour their agreement.
"It's important to keep the numbers right," Wilder, who has also brokered deals for Cardiff City's Gary Madine and Kieran Dowell, said. "You've got to protect yourself but, equally, we don't want them to get too high either because I don't think that helps with what we're trying to achieve."
"For a whole host of reasons, I wouldn't want to be in a situation where you look at the back of some (matchday) programmes and there's 40 or so names there," he added. "We want people to feel a part of things. Financially, it doesn’t make sense either.”
Wilder has combined his work in the transfer market with the equally important business of ensuring United are prepared for Saturday's meeting with Bolton Wanderers, who remained 23rd in the table following Tuesday's draw with Reading.
United climbed to third after drawing at Norwich City last weekend, twice coming from behind thanks to two goals from captain Billy Sharp.
"What happens on the pitch is what we're all concentrating on," Wilder said. “In this league, no matter what position you’re in, if you’re not ready and in the right frame of mind then you won’t get results. End of.”