A selection of comments from various media outlets about United’s promotion to The Premier League. Where possible, the full articles are available by clicking on the source of the comment.
“They do not have the biggest budget in the division, but they have the biggest hearts and those wins come from an indomitable team spirit created by their manager, Sheffield born lifelong Blades’ fan Chris Wilder, 51. They love the central location of their ground and dismiss rivals’ Sheffield Wednesday as playing ‘somewhere miles away near Barnsley.’ Wednesday actually play in Owlerton, a working-class suburb three miles to the north of the city. McCabe, 71, wants to sell the club and be a supporter once again. There was acrimony, but McCabe claims they’ve also had an understanding for the better of the club. The conflict didn’t hold them back as the Blades are going up having overcome 23 rivals in a division which includes fellow Yorkshire sides, Leeds United, Wednesday, Hull City, Rotherham, plus nearby Nottingham Forest, Derby County and Burton Albion. A raft of spicy derbies and near-derbies which even the Premier League would struggle to match.As the only Yorkshire club in the Premier League next season following the relegation of Huddersfield Town, they’ll be able to live with that. And how they deserve it.”
“Wilder’s United might represent “the best of working-class principles” but his playbook has been anything but prosaic. The most striking feature of a 3-5-2 formation typically defensive but here, swaggeringly offensive, is overlapping, outlying centre-backs, helping to create overloads in wide areas. Wing-backs raid like wingers. The play is usually short and patient, prizing cut-backs and high-quality chances. And Sharp is usually in the six-yard box, waiting to pounce.
Sky Sports pundit Danny Higginbotham describes the style, honed by Wilder’s unassuming longtime assistant Alan Knill, as “organised chaos”. Bielsa declared it worthy of study earlier this season. Whatever the verdict, the answer has been elusive for most opponents and the continuity – they have started every game since their return to the Championship with a back three – key. While heavyweight sides have gambled, Wilder has eked the maximum from a bottom-third budget to this time ride the challenges of a gruelling season. Manchester United goalkeeper Dean Henderson, no-fuss defender John Egan and dead-ball specialist Oliver Norwood have proved value upgrades down the spine. Scott Hogan, Gary Madine and Kieran Dowell were canny attacking additions in January, while Martin Crainie and 15-goal McGoldrick have been inspired free transfers. Players with apparent limitations have reached new heights in the Blades’ unorthodox system. Roving centre-back Chris Basham has revelled in a fresh sense of purpose, while Sharp – a driving force in the group, according to Wilder – has elevated his game, running channels and linking play as well as plundering 24 goals. He became the leading goalscorer in English league football this century back in January and Wilder is adamant he does not get enough credit. “
“If I can offer promoted Norwich and Sheffield United one piece of advise-don’t try to survive on the cheap. Yes Bournmouth managed it four years ago but in Eddie Howe they had a manager of remarkable ability. West Ham have done well because we have rich Hammers supporters as owners and a 60,000 capacity, That is twice what Carrow Road and Bramall Lane can hold. United’s style is pleasingly watchable but much too dependent on 33 year old Billy Sharp”
“I’ve seen them a few a times this year and they are right on your face. Centre backs come out and join in and everything. He’s got them playing great football and they’re competitive.
“Why would they (change their style). I think one of the things about his teams are that they play entertaining football and it’s exciting. If they stick to their principles then that’s the way to survive.
“While Sheffield United will be tipped to last just one season back in the Premier League, you’d be advised not to write off their local hero manager Chris Wilder and players who continually defy expectations. Huddersfield and Cardiff both made good fists of their first seasons in the Premier League and Burnley, whose squad has similarites with The Blades, are practically established in the top flight now. Sheffield United are arguably a bigger club than any of those mentioned above with a history and tradition that dates back to winning the old First Division in 1898 and scoring the first goal of the Premier League era, Brian Deane against Manchester United in 1992. Wilder will want to give his heroes a chance in the Premier League but realistically he’ll also need six signings, most of them with some experience at the highest level. Wilder likes 3-5-2 and there is no suggestion he’ll change the format after promotion. Up front he can’t rely on Sharp to match this season’s tally of 24 goals, and may try to make the loan moves of Cardiff’s Gary Madine and Scott Hogan from Aston Villa permanent. On the upside, if the ownership issue is settled, Wilder may have more pulling power, though he won’t want to wreck the spirit within in the dressing-room that has got them this far. “
“There are many contenders for Manager of the Year and, as usual, the winner will come from the top of the Premier League. Yet nobody has got more bang for their buck than Chris Wilder at Sheffield United. It is an incredible feat to go up from such a competitive league.If Jurgen Klopp wins a first Premier League title at Liverpool he will beat it — but not by much.”
“Only a brilliant coach gets a club with the limited resources of Sheffield United into the Premier League ahead of well-funded institutions such as Aston Villa. Only a brilliant coach outperforms a Leeds side led by the great guru Marcelo Bielsa. But he is quintessentially home-bred in his plain-speaking. Maybe that is what has put Premier League clubs off tapping him up over these past couple of years.
Remember? Had that been his name, Big Sam reckoned he would have managed one of the Big Six.
Maybe if Birra Moretti had been his name rather than his lager of choice, Wilder would have already been among the elite before finding his way there with his beloved Blades.
After all, this is a coach who won a quadruple with Alfreton Town, took Oxford United back into the Football League, kept Northampton in League Two and then won the league title with them and has now taken Sheffield United – whose club crest is tattooed on his torso – from League One to the Premier League.
This is a manager who has never been sacked.
This is a manager of a team with the best goal difference in the Championship. A team that has lost only one of their last 17 matches over the stretch that matters — the closing stretch.”
“Egan’s brilliant song went viral, as did many of the Blades’ players boozy antics on Sunday and Monday. And Wilder himself admitted: “I’m a bit fuzzy still and I’ve been topping up at times! But I’ve always been one that if we do achieve a bit of success, we have to enjoy it.Players need to let their hair down, especially when they achieve something as memorable as what we have this year. The scenes on Sunday were something special and will stay with me and the players for a long, long time.” In an interview during Sunday’s promotion party, Wilder took aim at the “muppets from Leeds”, including Patrick Bamford, who had questioned how the Blades would cope with the promotion pressure.He explained: “Emotions were high and we’d had a couple of drinks, but that’s how it is and that’s how I am.“I am old school and when people open their mouth and say things, they have got to expect stuff to come back.“But it’s nothing personal. Leeds are an outstanding team and I wouldn’t bet against them coming up in the play-offs.”
When you go to the Premier League, you’ll shock teams, the way you play. At home, you’ll be able to play the way you want to play. Everybody understands that going to Man City, Tottenham and Arsenal is tough, but at home, the way you play, you’re going to cause the big ones problems because they’ll never have come up against (Jack) O’Connell overlapping the left wing back, or (Chris) Basham overlapping the right full back.It’s going to be difficult for you, but fair play to you”
Charlie Adam, Radio 5
“Wilder’s badge-thumping, heart-on-sleeve approach should not mean his team get painted as simply rugged triers. The last two United sides promoted to the top flight – Dave Bassett’s team of 1989-90 and Neil Warnock’s 2005-06 version – had talent but got by more on perspiration than inspiration. Wilder was part of that Bassett squad, hence those nights out and fountain plunges, but his team are anything but direct. It was fitting that for their first goal in the promotion-clinching win over Ipswich on Saturday the assist came from Jack O’Connell, overlapping on the left. From centre-back. Much of the credit for the team’s style of play should also go to Wilder’s assistant, Alan Knill. While Wilder was talking through his haircut routine, you can picture Knill quietly peering out at the celebrating throng from the shadows and making mental notes about how crowd patterns might be applied to set-piece routines. After the win against Ipswich Wilder, not for the first time, had to shove Knill physically towards the Bramall Lane Kop who were singing his name. Their combination of fire and ice seems to work perfectly.Squad depth has made a crucial difference. The moment last season’s campaign was derailed can be pinpointed to the broken leg suffered by the key midfielder Paul Coutts at Burton in November, but this season the Blades have coped admirably with the bumps in the road – not least in the two wins over Easter, achieved without their injured captain and top scorer Billy Sharp, who returned for a third spell at the club in 2015 and, 89 goals in 175 games later, has firmly established his place in United folklore.Whether this squad can add another chapter by surviving next season can wait. For now they can look forward to a summer of anticipation, a Premier League campaign and, in the next week or two, perhaps another sparkling oration from Wilder on the city hall steps.”
” The straight-talking Yorkshireman keeps his messages simple but sets the highest standards and expects complete commitment from his players. Uncompromising defending is the bedrock, but Wilder is a canny tactician, with the use of over-lapping centre-backs to overload the opposition this season proving highly effective. Old fashioned team spirit is a prerequisite in Wilder’s dressing room, but when it comes to modern-day strategy, he will not be left behind.”
“If Sheffield United had spent the past three seasons in the Premier League their tactical innovations would have been lauded. “If I was in a bar having a coffee with friends, I would say Sheffield United’s manager is someone with new ideas and I have seen very few people with these kinds of ideas,” Marcelo Bielsa, the Leeds United head coach, said in November. The most eye-catching feature of the Blades’ approach — “front-foot football” as Chris Wilder, the manager, describes it — is their use of overlapping centre backs. United play an expansive 3-5-2 formation, with Chris Basham and Jack O’Connell, the first-choice right and left-sided centre backs, either side of John Egan. “
“It was Sam Allardyce in 2012, then in charge of West Ham, who infamously said he could have been managing a Champions League club had his surname been “Allardici”. At the EFL awards in April, when Chris Wilder walked away with the manager of the year prize, the compere Colin Murray made a similar joke, stating the straight-talking Sheffield United manager would no doubt be in the conversation for the Paris Saint-Germain job if he had a more exotic name. On stage Billy Sharp, a good sport and an even better striker, played along. It was put to Sharp, the captain, that nobody expected too much from a team with a modest Championship budget after finishing 10th last season. Awards season can often feel premature but Wilder is undoubtedly the manager of the year.”
Unai Emery’s squad is the exact opposite of the one Chris Wilder has had at his disposal this season as his Sheffield United won promotion to The Premier League. The Blades, psychically and mentally strong, don’t have an iota of Arsenal’s talent and ability. What they do have though, is 10 times the leadership, belief and camaraderie, and that has served them so well in The Championship over the last 9 months.”
Stan Collymore, The Mirror