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Thread: Season Review 18-19 - The Manager

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Season Review 18-19 - The Manager

    Managerial team/Coaches

    Chris Wilder The success story in many ways goes on and on. After we faded away and finished 10th; it was still an excellent season back at this level and clearly, we did better than many, including our own fans thought. He got frustrated with the lack of backing and talk about him genuinely leaving at the end of last season came to the fore. He realises though that this is his club and this is a one in a lifetime opportunity. He stayed put, got another contract and better backing in both transfer windows. We still cannot compete with some of the clubs at this level and the likes of Villa, Stoke, Derby (Waghorn) can still blow out of the water in wage terms but as those clubs proved ‘spunking’ the cash is not everything. We have seen the problems some clubs have got in for spending money they did not have or overcommitted in terms of FFP. Wilder does spend money like it’s his own to some degree and is not reckless. He makes shrewd signings and his recruitment this year for the most part was much better as we got better quality in; as he sacrificed Brooks and allowed him to bring a number down the spine in. Henderson, Egan, Norwood and McGoldrick were all success stories. A few other low profile moves, Johnson, Bryan and Washington were not but some others were such as Cranie and the three loan signings gave us extra depth.

    We started the season badly but he did not panic. He spoke of only having three ‘team’ meetings that were of a serious note; after Boro away, Villa away and then Bristol City at home. For the most part we were very consistent and this season found different ways to win. From Sept up to January we played some lovely football and some superb away performances at Blackburn, Bolton and Millwall saw us cut teams open. The home form was very consistent and then after the Villa let down; we managed to go on a run winning games in a different way with a solid defence and tighter unit and we went from back to front quicker and it was not just passing, fluid football. After so many tight defeats where we were often the better team in games the previous season, this year we managed to win some tighter games and against the bigger clubs.

    His post match interviews remain very honest. He will say it like it is. He has slammed the team a few times but less so this season and maybe kept things in house more and generally praises a ‘great group.’ I think he has let opposition managers get the better of him at key times in the previous season but he has learnt from that and at times we were not so gung-ho and a bit more disciplined.

    Sometimes his subs have not always worked and at times he has changed things and it has led to us dropping off or to players not helping us see games out. However, he has also made changes that have won us points too.

    Overall, the application, ethic and consistency has been outstanding. They just kept it going and that was really impressive. He had the fans believing and after we in and around the top 6 at Xmas after enjoying a few spells in first earlier in the season, we pushed on and got to those top 3 placings for the final period of the season. The reaction after the late heartache of Villa and Millwall has been superb. The team spirit that comes from him (and so many captain types, not just Billy) is old school but he seems to take on new methods and his tactics and how we go about things proves that.

    He has massively given us our club back and the way we play, the way the manager/players care, the connection has never been greater between the fans and the players. Still above that we have to play good football and win games and for the most part he has done that. Gradually bit by bit he keeps improving us and in three years we have progressed massively every single season. It has been a remarkable turnaround. To get us from League One to the Premier League in three years is astounding in todays finance dominated football world when we have in real terms not had the same backing and financial acumen as may others. His messiah like stance as he stood in front of the town hall on the stage summed up what Blades fans thing of him.

    I am actually dreading the day he leaves, either to go onto better things or feels if the board situation is not resolved he cannot push us much higher but hope he gives us another couple of years at least no matter what as there is no reason, we cannot stay up and build. If we come up short, he knows he would have a job unless something ridiculous happened with the ownership situation. He will be the least under pressure manager in some ways in the top flight but he wants to better us.

    He will have to slowly start to add competition and look for real top-drawer competition /replacements in the likes of Duffy, Sharp and McGoldrick but I have faith that he can do that. They have to give him the funds this summer to push us on even more.

    For me, he is the heartbeat of this club. No manager, player, official is bigger than the club and ever will be and he knows that but at the moment he embodies and represents everything we love about Sheffield United. He has been simply fantastic and now is right up there with Dave Bassett as the best manager we have ever had in my lifetime.

    Grade A+ (Last season B+)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Alan Knill continued as Wilder’s trusty aide. His work goes under the radar somewhat but is crucial to our success in terms of planning, the tactical side, set plays and shape. He seems the sort that actually would not want to be a manager and seems happy with his lot as a number 2 allowing Wilder to take the good and the bad. Seems a really quiet, unassuming sort but the players seem to respect him massively. We have seen more clever free kicks/corners and we have also seen some different shapes and formations from the pair this season. Great that Wilder pushes him forward for acclaim off the fans. He said openly at the Star Sports Awards after the season that he is glad to be a coach and I think loves coaching and being with the players but would not want to have the limelight totally – although seemed to quite enjoy the crowd surfing in the car park at the end of the season!

    Matt Prestridge is the least known of the three main coaches but his work on the fitness and planning cannot be underestimated. Our injury record has actually been stellar over the last few years with very few long-term injuries (outside of ones like the Coutts one that no amount of Sport Science can plan for) and he has meant even older players like McGoldrick, Sharp and Duffy have stayed fit. Indeed, McGoldrick was deemed a crock when he came in but has stayed fit the entire season. Next season we will have to be even more at it in terms of working hard and fitness as we face fast, athletic and super skilled players. We will have to try and get every edge we can.

    Darren Ward continues to coach the keepers and like with Jamal Blackman seems to have done well I helping identify and develop a loan keeper in Dean Henderson. We have not quite seen the progression with Eastwood and maybe Dewhurst is the next we hope can push on. Ward seems quite a part of the matchday things and not just the goalkeeping side. Wilder sees him as important part of things. Will hope he can work with Henderson another year moving forward.

    Academy / Development side
    Travis Binnion now runs most things down at the Academy in terms of heading up the operations Derek Geary runs the u18’s in terms of match to match.
    The u23’s and u18’s may not have been right at the top of their respective leads but we had so many u23’s out on loan or eventually moved on and played many of our u18’s in the u23’s. It is interesting that we chose to farm so many out and even more interesting we chose to let some go rather than wait and see (Semple, Gilmour, Hallam) but United’s fast development and success at 1st team level means you have to be very good now to get even close. That is just the reality. I expect a number of to move on now looking at the lack of impact/limited chances the youngsters have had or will have. They have to allow the next pathway of youngsters a chance to come through.
    With the u23/u18’s; we had Binnion and the more experienced John Dungworth who was here under Bassett 25 years ago; seemingly the main coaches for the u23 sides. Mick Wadsworth is also involved in the coaching for various age groups.
    Word also for the SUFC Women’s team who finished a creditable placing in their first season at a decent level and finished the season well. So well done to Carla Ward and also to McCabe for developing this side of things with a new stadium at the Olympic Legacy Park that is going to be developed. They will want to push on and hopefully contend for promotion and a place in the top level and this will be helped now Manchester United have gone up.

    Paul Mitchell continued to head up the scouting side and has to take some real credit for the signings of Henderson, Egan, Norwood etc. He is a trusted confidante of Wilder. The challenge now is for us to make even better signings and sadly players that everyone knows about thus costing bigger fees. I still have concerns we are not even trying to exploit the international market and feel whilst our British only philosophy has worked; we need now to look at this side of things in terms of broadening our horizons and also enabling us to get better value for money. I do hope this is an area we can address as is a weakness in the club at the moment. He faces a huge summer. He has shown he can find the right players – the issue is now the enormous fees/wages we will have to find. One thing we have to do is bring the age of the team down with three of four key men in advancing years – we had the 2nd oldest team in the league last season.

    Next season

    What can I say? The manager, coaching team and backroom staff all will stay in place and take on the Premier League. This challenge will be far bigger than the leap from League One to the Championship but if anyone can do it Wilder can with Knill as his trusty sidekick. He will face challenges but the key is not to move away from what has got us there – the team spirit, the work ethic, togetherness and bravery in how we play has to remain. We need to add more pace, athleticism and skill (and Premier League know how) but the principles have to remain. The way we play may see us get caught and embarrassed at times but so what. Rather than the timid way we approached many games under Warnock the last time we went up. Remember us going to Anfield and Stamford Bridge and playing very defensive and still getting stuffed. There are some games we may have to pick and choose but we have to be roaring and at teams from the off. I truly believe we will surprise a few. I am not sure we are any worse than say Cardiff and hopefully won’t make such a mess of recruitment that Fulham did. We cannot do a Wolves as we don’t have the players and spending power but not ridiculous that we cannot compete with the likes of Burnley, Brighton, Southampton, Norwich and whoever else comes up for example. I don’t want us to change too much but we will have to make some changes as the jump up will be big and we have to be at it every game. The positive is we play less games and get more breaks between games also. Whether that helps us remains to be seen. I think the players have to go and work hard, play with a smile on their face and ensure that they leave it out there. If they do that and they come up short then so be it. We take the money and still would be in a healthy position. The biggest strength by far is the manager. Everything comes from him and with him in charge we can be positive and hopeful of what we can achieve. The biggest compliment is that I would not be surprised if he kicks us on again even at the top level of English football.

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