Sheffield United: Despite the informal atmosphere, Chris Wilder’s first press call after signing a new contract was a hugely important event

Chris Wilder is staying with Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Chris Wilder is staying with Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
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There was no pomp, ceremony or unnecessary fanfare. After all, the story had broken 24 hours earlier.

But the lack of theatrics surrounding the official announcement could not disguise the event’s significance. Chris Wilder will remain Sheffield United manager. For at least, according to the terms of his new contract, the next three seasons.

Sheffield United's co-owners Prince Abdullah and Kevin McCabe.

Sheffield United's co-owners Prince Abdullah and Kevin McCabe.

Calm, relaxed and good humoured as he discussed his decision pitchside, the 50-year-old cut a markedly different figure to the one which, less than three weeks earlier, had openly admitted he could be forced to leave Bramall Lane. The source of his frustration, a dispute between the Championship club’s two co-owners, is still on-going. However, for the first time in a long while, Wilder can concentrate his attention on football rather than politics. And, despite the constraints of his collar, tie and club suit, he looked visibly relieved.

“I would like to think this sounds out a message to all of our supporters, who have backed us tremendously,” Wilder, making a point of thanking both Kevin McCabe and HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Mosa’ad Abdulaziz Al Saud, said. “It was important to get it sorted, 100 per cent.

“It’s been a very important period, a time to reflect and get my thoughts together with my staff. Through that period, there has been lengthy discussions with the owners. I am delighted we are all on the same page.

“We have had two fantastic seasons, we have been talking about a new contract for quite a while - with both owners - and I am delighted they have put their trust in me. I had to make the right decision, and I believe I have.”

Chris Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill after their appointment by Sheffield United two years ago '�2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

Chris Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill after their appointment by Sheffield United two years ago '�2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

Although the statement United distributed to the journalists in attendance described it as an “extension”, the deals Wilder and his staff have signed are, to all intents and purposes, new three year agreements. Their enhanced terms and conditions are deserved after delivering one promotion and a play-off challenge since being appointed in May 2016. They also mark a continuation of the policy, which until now has focused largely on the dressing room, of rewarding good work. It is there, behind the white double doors at the end of the players’ tunnel, where the uncertainty surrounding Wilder’s future has been felt most acutely. Yesterday’s development, predicted by this newspaper on Monday, brings the type of clarity, sense of purpose and certainty professionals need to perform at their best.

“It re-assured the players here, too,” Wilder said. “I am not saying I am the most popular person amongst the players - I have got a job to do, and they know I will do it in an honest way - but I think they need to make sure there was direction, and I was going to be here for those boys to kick on.

“I think we have sent out the right messages in how we have gone about it, how we have concluded it, and now I am desperate to not to talk about off-field matters and concentrate in football matters.”

Although he declined the invitation to elaborate too much, (a wise choice given they hope to enter the transfer market shortly), Wilder did confirm United’s recruitment budget has been increased. Supporters were warned not to expect multi-million pound signings. “I am not talking out of turn, it’s not going to be head-turning where we are blowing everybody out of the water.” But, after finishing 10th on a bottom six budget last season, Wilder did acknowledge the amount placed at his disposal meant “quality” additions are now within reach.

“We will try and get the maximum out of what we have been given,” he said. “I am grateful the owners have found money to improve the budget. But we will go about our work diligently, we will try to improve the squad with quality signings.

To get quality signings through the door we might have to pay a little bit more than we have had to (previously).

“We are looking at a division where I know nine or 10 clubs are possibly close to a transfer embargo. Clubs are writing off big money, left right and centre. I have always said that I would never put the club at risk, but I am ambitious and the owners know that.

“What they have given me, hopefully I can get the maximum out, and make us better than what we were last year.”