Manager explains why Sheffield United must become a club for the entire community

Ask Chris Wilder to identify Sheffield United’s most important achievement since he took charge four years ago and you might expect their League One title winning campaign or promotion from the Championship to top the list.

Sunday, 9th August 2020, 11:00 am

But it is something much more esoteric, something which can’t be measured in silverware or points, which he always cites as the biggest success of his reign so far - the strength of the relationship between the team and the terraces, which appeared fractured almost beyond repair when Wilder was appointed.

“I don’t think you can put a price on that,” he said, citing it as a major influence on United’s performances in the Premier League last season. “The fans are a huge part of what we do and it’s vital, absolutely necessary in fact, for that to be that bond there.

“I don’t think it was when we first came in, and that’s not having a dig at anybody. But it obviously needed sorting if the club was going to progress and thankfully we’ve been able to do that. Well, the lads have done it because the people who come to watch can see they put everything in, no matter what.”

Wilder, who inherited a squad which had just finished mid-table in the third tier when he burst back through the doors of Bramall Lane, knows what pushes the United supporters’ buttons because he is one of them himself.

Having decided that the personality of his side must reflect the values of the community it represents - humble, hard-working but intensely proud - he places such importance on building a rapport between professional footballers and the general public that, towards the end of last term, he admitted being forced to play behind closed doors because of the Covid-19 pandemic had proven a handicap in United’s pursuit of European football.

“We want to take everyone with us, we want to be a club that represents everyone around here,” he said, after United finished ninth. “I’m not ashamed to admit that what happened probably affected us more than we thought it would. Then again, because of the backing, that’s not a surprise.”

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Chris Wilder wants Sheffield United to reflect the personality of the city: Simon Bellis/Sportimage