Sheffield United co-owner Kevin McCabe was delighted to land Chris Wilder as the club’s new manager, having feared he was due to sign for Charlton under his nose.
McCabe was watching the Blades’ Under-18s at The Valley on Monday evening when then-Northampton boss Wilder appeared to be on the verge of filling the Addicks’ own vacancy having been granted permission to speak with them.
However, just three days later and hours after Nigel Adkins had been sacked, self-confessed United fan Wilder became the ninth permanent manager in as many years at Bramall Lane.
“Chris Wilder’s been on the list as a would-be Sheffield United manager for probably four or five years, he’s been observed,” McCabe explained.
“This time around, when the final decision was made that really we should look to change, it was bizarrely coincidental.
“I went to watch the under-18s play Charlton Athletic and I was at The Valley hearing Charlton saying that Chris was (going to be) their new manager so it was coincidental.
“It was coincidence that led to him zooming down to London to see me for a long, working session and concluding a deal there and then. It wasn’t difficult for me. We understood each other. I didn’t need to talk to him about the club, he understands the club. Of course he understands we want promotions, plural, in a sensible period of time.
“I had only one manager on my mind. Some big names had been made indirectly but there was one guy we wanted.
“Perhaps because I knew he’d been approached by many other clubs, but specifically Charlton, who were there to sign on the dotted line, it made us act quickly. But only because we wanted to.”
A ‘brave decision’
The job Wilder did in guiding Northampton to the League Two title, despite off-field struggles which saw them almost go to the wall, has made him in-demand this summer.
Charlton were not the only club after his services and Wilder revealed he snubbed Championship interest to make a romantic return to South Yorkshire.
“I’ve made brave decisions in my career as a manager and this is a brave one,” added Wilder, who also announced Billy Sharp will be his new captain.
“I could have quite easily taken an easy way out and gone to another club and possibly talked to a couple of Championship clubs but I don’t think I’d have been able to sleep at night knowing that I’d turned that opportunity (at Sheffield United) down.
“To get this chance is a fantastic moment for me but one that we have to work very hard and very quickly with.”
Wilder’s agent, Iain Wood of New Era Global Sports, added: “Chris is obviously delighted with the move to Sheffield United as it is his club.
“Every club that showed an interest in Chris treated us brilliantly and things could have turned out differently, but the chance to manage his boyhood club was too good to turn down for Chris.”
Top flight the target
Despite having the largest budget in the third tier last term, Adkins could only steer the Blades to 11th in the table, eight points adrift of the play-offs, meaning Wilder will take charge of a team spending a sixth straight year at that level.
And though he has not managed in either of the top two divisions, McCabe stressed his target remains to have the Blades back in the Premier League in the near future.
He said: “The aims and ambitions for Sheffield United remain very much to get back to where we belong, the top of the tree in English football, the Premier League, which we very much hope will happen with Chris leading us to that in the coming seasons.”