CHRIS WILDER issued a chilling reminder that sentiment is not part of his make-up on the eve of Sheffield United’s long-awaited return to the Championship.
And in typically forthright fashion he hinted that his ambition is not yet being matched by the Blades' co-owners. “This is where the club is at and I get that. I’m an employee of the football club and I’ll do what I’m told,” he said.
“The ambitions lie with the owners and I’m not chucking anybody under the bus there. It’s obvious. If there is a push, then we’ll deal with that. The job is still the same which is getting the maximum out of what we’ve got.”
He added: “We know we’re short on possibly two or three players, I’ve made that perfectly clear to the owners the we need to strengthen. The [financial] goalposts have definitely moved in this division. From my point of view and what people perceive of me I’ve tried to get the maximum out of the budget but I’m ambitious as well.
“I want to drive this club forward. I don’t want us just to hang about the division and struggle all season. Would I like the budgets of some of the other managers? Yes, absolutely. Then it’s up to me and the recruitment department to get the maximum out of that budget. That’s the key to success.
“We got the maximum out of our budget last year and we want to do this year. I’ll always be pushing to make this club better and give my personal views on where we’re at, honestly and I think the owners know that.”
Every United fan is aware that Wilder, a lifelong Blade himself, is his own man and speaks his mind objectively. That, along with the no-nonsense know-how in getting results is what makes him stand out from a crowd of media-trained, corporate on-message managers to be found across all four divisions.
Wilder has to date made additions to his squad during the summer, all from lower leagues apart from defender Richard Stearman, signed from Championship Fulham who loaned him to Wolves last season. Goalkeeper Jamal Blackman is a loanee from Chelsea, but his only experience of senior English league football was on loan at Wycombe Wanderers in League Two where he was voted Player of the Year. He also made a League Cup appearance his only outing whilst on loan at Middlesbrough.
The timing of Wilder’s heartfelt message, however, serves as an urgent reminder to club co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud that they still have the opportunity to make a difference between now and August 31 when the transfer window closes.
Wilder also had sobering words for the players who won the League One title so spectacularly last season, accumulating a club-record 100 points and returning the good times which had been missing for so long at the Lane.
“I don’t want us to be stale, I don’t want us to rely on what we’ve done last year,” he said. “I want us to kick on. I’m ambitious, I want the club to be ambitious and the players to be ambitious. But ultimately it’s the players who have to tell me they’re good enough to compete in this division.”
He added: “It’s a moving target. We have faith in the players we’ve got but listen, they’ve got to go and produce performances. Until we step out into Championship football – pre-season has been outstanding, excellent for the players, the attitudes been great, the performances have been great – but when the bullets fly we only know [then] how good these players are going to be.
“I’ve every confidence they will be but like last year if they’re not and we have the period up until August 31st to bring players in then I’ll push to do that. As I’ve said all along I’m loyal but I’m not sentimental.”