HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, co-owner of Sheffield United, says he would love Chris Wilder to become ‘the next Sir Alex Ferguson’ by managing the club for the next 15 to 20 years.
Citing the former Northampton Town chief’s record since taking charge 17 months ago, Prince Abdullah told The Star that although Wilder is already “a great coach”, he possesses the skills to become even better providing United match his ambitions.
Wilder’s team travels to Leeds tonight third in the Championship table and knowing that a win will see them overtake leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers, who visit Queens Park Rangers tomorrow.
“Chris loves Sheffield United,” Prince Abdullah said. “He is ‘one of us’ as they say. But I am not daft enough to think Chris is not an ambitious guy. He is loyal but ambitious and so are we. We must match those. I say to my friends: ‘I want him to be the next Sir Alex Ferguson.’ I want him to be here for 15 to 20 years.”
Ferguson was at the helm of Manchester United for nearly three decades and although the vagaries of the modern game mean Wilder is unlikely to match that achievement, his impact has clearly struck a chord with Bramall Lane’s hierarchy.
After leading United to the League One title last term, Wilder enters the match at Elland Road boasting a near 63 per cent win ratio.
“Look at the record over two and a half years,” Prince Abdullah, a former president of Saudi club Al-Hilal, said. “I think he is a good guy above everything else. I feel that I can trust him. I have worked with some really big name coaches; Eric Gerets, Cosmin Olaroiu and now Chris. I really like him. I like his attitude, he is honest. He is a great coach but he will grow to be even a better coach.”
United have a near full-strength squad at their disposal for the meeting with Thomas Christiansen’s fourth-placed side. Kieron Freeman (knee) and Ched Evans (ankle) are their only notable absentees.
“There’s competition,” Wilder, who yesterday allowed Jordan Hallam to join Southport on loan, said. “Richard Stearman is back in training and James Hanson who gives us something different. I think there’s been a real focus to the lads recently. You can see it.”