After a second half of the season collapse has cost Sheffield United any hope of a shot at back to back promotions, manager Chris Wilder has hinted that things could get even worse.
The popular coach suggested that his future at Bramall Lane is anything but certain, despite extending his contract last summer. Uncertainty from the club’s owners has drawn criticism from the manager after his side were beaten by Preston on Saturday.
“It’s 100 per cent critical it gets resolved, I can’t do my job properly unless there is a direction and decision from the owners,” Wilder said as he spoke to the Yorkshire Post.
“Any club that wants to be successful has to have harmony, direction and a plan. There isn’t a plan, there isn’t direction, and there isn’t harmony. That’s a fact.
“I won’t use that as an excuse for us possibly not delivering (on the pitch). This is a brilliant club which is close to my heart, and I want it to move forward in our own way.
“I want to lead it, but I need a bit of help. I am the only voice that comes out of the football club. There’s a lot of things which need to happen, soon, quick.
“It’s not just me, and what my future holds, what is the direction and message to the good players that we’ve got. Are we moving forward? They need to see things happening.
“I really shouldn’t be talking about any of this, and if people don’t like it, they have to deal with it. This is my city, my football club. I have worked extremely hard to get in this position, I am ambitious, and I believe in the ability of myself and the staff.
“I want to go forward with this football club. But I can’t do it all on my own. If it stays the same I don’t think anybody would be surprised if I didn’t question where my career is going.
“I want my career to go forward, progress my career, the careers of the staff and the players – and most importantly give the supporters some hope we can have a genuine football club with a strategy and plan to move forward.”
The ex-Northampton boss has led the team back to where they belong after successive high profile managers failed to restore the Blades to the second tier, let alone competing at the top end of it, and his team have put the building blocks in place for further success.
An experienced coach in the lower leagues, Wilder has been linked to a number of jobs over the past year with West Brom becoming the latest side to have him amongst the favourites to take up the reigns, according to OddsChecker.
Wilder’s tactical style and strong playing squad has been fundamental to the success over the past two seasons and a new coach would mean that the club would have to start again from scratch, once again throwing the club into the realms of uncertainty that cost them their spot in the Championship to begin with.
If Sheffield United are serious about one day returning to the top flight in the near future, they must ensure that Wilder is the man to lead them there, and that means doing whatever it takes to persuade him that he is not alone in his leadership of the club.
One winner and loser as Sheffield United sign Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn
Sheffield United have signed the talented Liverpool youngster on a season-long loan.
Sky Bet Championship side Sheffield United have completed the signing of talented Liverpool youngster Ben Woodburn on a season-long loan.
Many thought this would be the season for Woodburn to push into the first team at Anfield. However, after the arrival of midfield duo Naby Keita and Fabinho, the 18-year-old’s game time would have been limited.
The talented youngster has been subject to a lot of interest this summer and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp only wanted the midfielder to leave on loan if he were assured the game time he needs to progress into the next stage of his blossoming career.
Here, at The Boot Room, we take a look at one winner and loser from this season-long loan deal.
Winner – Ben Woodburn
Woodburn will finally be given a chance to have a good run of games, and there’s no better playground than the Championship to hone and develop your skills as a young footballer.
At 18 years of age, the Welsh international still has time on his side and a season in the Championship will only benefit him and his career.
Jurgen Klopp will of had to of been reassured that Woodburn would be given a sufficient amount of game time to let him leave on loan and this is only a positive factor for the Liverpool youngster heading into the new Championship season.
Loser – Aston Villa
Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa were front runners earlier this week to sign Woodburn on a season-long loan from Liverpool, according to the Telegraph.
However, Liverpool have favoured Sheffield United over Villa as the club to nurture their youngster and to lose out on Woodburn’s signature will come as a real blow to the Midlands club.
It is still unclear as to why Reds boss Jurgen Klopp chose for Woodburn to join the Sheffield side over Villa. However, it could have something to do with the ongoing Jack Grealish saga.
Sheffield United may regret £10million deal taking David Brooks to Bournemouth
The Championship starlet is set to sign for Premier League Bournemouth.
There haven’t been many Premier League signings announced since the beginning of the World Cup, but the Cherries have managed to make progress.
For those that aren’t familiar with the 20-year-old midfielder, he is regarded as one of the brightest talents in the Football League after establishing himself in Chris Wilder’s team.
The news of a deal being close have come out of nowhere, but there were links made between Bournemouth and Brooks earlier this summer.
Although they didn’t act on that interest, it underlines how highly he is thought of within the game and bigger clubs will follow his progress with interest.
Brooks is at the early stage of his development and he could benefit massively from working with Eddie Howe. Until now, he has been mainly used as a substitute, but he has shown his class in the handful of starts he has been given.
The standout performance came against Sheffield Wednesday when he was started in a central role. The 20-year-old wasn’t overawed by the occasion and delivered a display of the highest quality.
One of the key reasons he has stood out as a big talent is his dribbling ability. Brooks is excellent at quickly manoeuvring the ball to beat an opposition player and then move into the space created.
His end product needs work and his decision making can be questionable, but there is a lot to work with for Bournemouth.
Last season, he contributed three goals and four assists in the Championship, with a goal involvement every 164 minutes.
Considering his bit-part squad role, that is an impressive return and Sheffield United fans were hoping that 2018/19 would be a breakout year for him at Bramall Lane.
However, it now looks like they won’t get a chance to see the young midfielder in a Blades shirt again.
Sheffield United are a team on the up and they will have ambitions of challenging for a top six finish during the coming campaign.
Brooks could have been a difference maker for them if given a regular starting role. There were positive signs last season and he looked ready to make the next step under Wilder.
The decision to sell him is an understandable one, as they will be receiving a club record fee. That said, the reported fee of £10 million plus add-ons is one that will disappoint some supporters.
His potential is huge and he could be worth more than double that in 12 months’ time. They could be cashing in too soon.
On the other hand, if they can use the eight-figure sum to bring in two or three quality second-tier players, they could quickly transform themselves into a promotion contender.
The fact that Brooks wasn’t a regular starter last season means that it isn’t a disastrous departure, but there was a huge opportunity to turn him into the star of this team and that is now gone.
Who will win the race for the Sky Bet Championship play-offs?
The Championship play-offs are just around the corner.
The Championship is a league renowned for its unpredictability and twists and turns in what is a 46 game long season.
On any given weekend, any team can beat another which makes it one of the closest and exciting leagues in the world.
This season has proved no different, with six teams still competing for a play-off place with just six games to go.
In 5th place currently is Derby on 68 points, three points clear of 7th placed Millwall with a game in hand.
They are at the moment the favourites to secure a play-off spot, with the top three having already practically guaranteed their places if they do not gain automatic promotion.
Aston Villa look to set to join them, with a maximum of eight points needed from their last five games to be sure of making the play-offs.
Gary Rowett’s side have bounced back well from the loss of Johnny Russell in January to the MLS and a string of first-team injuries that have decimated the squad in recent months.
Most of their stars, including Tom Huddlestone and Joe Ledley, returned for their 1-0 away win over Preston on Easter Monday, a result that was desperately needed.
They followed that up with a 3-0 win over Bolton at the weekend, and the goals of Matej Vydra plus the defensive experience of Curtis Davies and Scott Carson should see them over the line.
Two points behind them in 6th is Tony Pulis’s Middlesbrough, who have seen an upturn in form since the former West Brom man took over in December.
Pulis is known for his defensive style of play but Middlesbrough have scored plenty since he came in, with Adama Traore in particular impressing.
A club like Boro will be expecting play-offs as a minimum, and you would expect them to achieve that goal given the quality of their squad, although even if they don’t get there this season, they will be one of the favourites to go up next season under Pulis.
The surprise package of this season has been Millwall, with Neil Harris leading his side to an unexpected 7th place berth at this stage of the season.
The Lions have only lost one game all season, that being on New Years’ Day at Norwich.
They have relied on a mixture of youth and experience, with younger players like Jake Cooper, Jed Wallace and George Saville complemented by the likes of veteran Steve Morison, and an immense run of form has given them every chance of making the play-offs, which would be a remarkable achievement.
Most fans surely would have been happy with a mid-table finish on their return to the Championship, but they have defied expectations so far.
They face tricky trips to Middlesbrough and Sheffield United, and home games against Fulham and Aston Villa, but win at least a couple of those and the Lions could be roaring at the end of the league season.
Behind them on 62 points is Bristol City, who have had a mixed run of form since the turn of the year.
They briefly went 2nd in the table after a Boxing Day win against Reading, just a week after Lee Johnson’s side defeated Manchester United to reach the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.
They eventually lost on aggregate to Manchester City after giving them a stern test, but have only won twice since then.
Like Millwall, they too face a trip to the Riverside to play Middlesbrough and host Sheffield United on the final day, but they are only four points off the top six and can still make it in.
Another side who had an excellent first half of the season is Sheffield United, Chris Wilder’s side briefly sitting in top spot after a 2-1 away win against Leeds in October.
They have fallen away since then, currently sitting 9th and behind Bristol City on goal difference, but regardless of whether they qualify for the play-offs or not, it has still been a good season for Wilder’s men.
They drew 1-1 with Cardiff last week, a game which they had the better chances in, showing the fine margins that exist in the Championship.
The Blades lost in the Yorkshire derby against Barnsley on Saturday, a result that puts them four points behind Middlesbrough.
They host Preston before the season is out, a game which could still prove crucial for both teams, and also play Bristol City and Millwall.
Brentford sit just one point behind them in 10th, having shown some resurgence in recent weeks.
Their transfer policy is a very effective one, using a stats model to sign players both from England and all around the world.
Some of their signings appear to be gelling together well, with summer signing Neal Maupay netting the winner in both of their previous two games.
Manager Dean Smith has been linked with Premier League jobs in the past, and has done an excellent job at the Bees, who will surely be challenging at the end of the season.
The final team that have a realistic chance of reaching the play-offs is Preston North End, Alex Neil’s side currently occupying 11th place on 60 points.
They have lost their last three league games, although they were unlucky to lose against Derby and had the fair share of possession and chances against Reading.
Neil’s side face only one team out of the top 11 in the remaining fixtures – Sheffield United – which could work in their favour.
They have missed the firepower of top scorer Sean Maguire, who missed four months of the season due to injury, but his return has boosted the team, who have seen some outstanding performances already this season from the likes of Ben Davies, Ben Pearson and Alan Browne.
If Neil’s side can get substantial points out of their remaining games, they still have a chance of qualifying for the play-offs, although like the teams above them up to 7th, will need to rely on Derby and Middlesbrough dropping points.
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