Smith urges Sheffield Utd to go with manager who ‘knows the club’

Date published: Tuesday 2nd March 2021 3:30 - Neil Foster

Chris.Wilder.2021.TEAMtalk

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith feels Sheffield United should stick with manager Chris Wilder if, as expected, they are relegated this season.

The Villans travel to South Yorkshire to take on the Blades on Wednesday evening. The two clubs have enjoyed contrasting fortunes in 2020-2021.

After avoiding relegation by one place last term, the West Midlanders sit ninth in the Premier League table. They have won 12 league games and beaten the likes of Liverpool, Arsenal (twice) and Leicester City.

Their 7-2 thrashing of the Reds back in early October remains the result of the season to date. Wilder’s side managed a ninth-placed finish in 2019-2020.

However, they fell away towards the end of that campaign and that has continued this time around. The Bramall Lane outfit did not win their first league match until January 12 – at the 18th time of asking.

Two more wins have followed but, with just 11 points to their name, the Championship beckons. They are 15 points from safety and would need to win the majority of their remaining fixtures to beat the drop.

It is all a far cry from last season when they won 14 top-flight games and Wilder was roundly praised. He is now under pressure and told reporters on Tuesday that talks over a new deal are not happening.

The 53-year-old has made it clear he wants to remain at the club regardless of the division they are playing in.

And Smith agrees that should happen “without a shadow”, adding: “Chris knows the club really, really well.

“They’re still fighting. They won’t believe they are down yet, but it’s looking hard for them. There’s certainly no chance they will give up in any game.”

Future unclear

Wilder has been in charge of United since May 2016. He took them from League One to the Premier League in three years and has an impressive win rate of nearly 47%.

But that has taken a hit this term and the Stocksbridge-born tactician confessed that he has no idea what will happen.

“I don’t know. We always plan short, medium and long term, but that plan is determined by other people than me,” he said. “I’ve not had those conversations. I think they should be happening, but they’re not happening.”

He wants to stay with his present employers if “we stick to the plan” and still loves running the team.

“We’ve had a glorious period in the football club’s history, glorious,” he added. “And I’ve really enjoyed it and being part of it.”

 

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