Martin Smith column: Now is the time for Sheffield United to repay Chris Wilder

The Champagne and beer stains are still damp on ceilings across the city.

Monday, 29th April 2019, 7:30 am
Updated Monday, 29th April 2019, 10:55 am
Blades fans celebrate in the Clubhouse, London Road after watching Leeds draw with Villa on TV at Sunday lunchtime confirming Sheffield Uniteds promotion to the Premier League. Pic Steve Ellis

Videos of dancing and singing players, manager and fans are yet doing the social media rounds.

So what now for promoted Sheffield United, a club still in conflict at its highest level?

Joint owners Prince Abdullah bin Musa'ad bin Abdul Aziz and Kevin McCabe take their ownership scrap to the high court next month.

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Boy do they need to get that sorted.

It was urgent enough when Chris Wilder was putting together a wish list for promotion. Now the need is infinitely more pressing as United prepare for a season in the Premier League.

So that all the talk of ‘sterile’ away atmospheres, biased referees and slanted TV coverage actually has a point next season, the club needs to get its act together.

Manager Wilder’s three promotions in four years after starting in Sunday football carry the mark of a special one.

Special ones need to be taken care of. The club that Wilder loves needs to back him with cash and conviction. It’s hard enough to survive in the Premier League with big money, a squad full of experienced Premier League players and a united boardroom.

With their two owners at odds and preparing for a hideously expensive high court battle United are in danger of starting the summer with two hands tied behind their back.

It’s been said before but there are times in the history of a football club when it needs to be bold. When it needs to think big, make ambitious plans and trust those in charge to deliver.

For Sheffield United it’s now and the man is Chris Wilder.

The football his team has played has been as good as anything outside the Premier League. The whole country has seen the evidence.

United need to give Chris Wilder a fighting chance at the top and that means having a club united behind him.

*Leeds allowed Villa to score an equaliser unopposed after a perceived on-field injustice caused mayhem at Elland Road on Sunday.

A great and sporting gesture by a maverick manager or a sign they had conceded defeat in the battle for automatic promotion?

Would Marco Bielsa’s team - or any other - have been so generous had they needed a win to be promoted?

Tough call. But frankly, who cares?