Could Chris Wilder Be Manager Of The Year?

Chris Wilder is slowly putting together his credentials to earn a manager of the year award after guiding Sheffield United to an impressive start to the Premier League season. 

Wilder has been sensational during his tenure at Bramall Lane, guiding the club from League One to sixth in the top flight at the time of writing.

United are not blessed with talent across the pitch but are constantly punching above their weight against seemingly stronger opponents to earn positive results. It’s a testament to the system employed by Wilder that his team have managed to gain so much success to put them on pace for not only survival but also a top-half finish in the Premier League. The Blades are backed in the Premier League betting odds at 13/8 to finish in the top 10, and it would be a major achievement for a team that last finished in the top half of the top division in 1992. It has been an incredible rise from the third tier in four years and Wilder deserves all the accolades that are coming his way for their continued excellence on the pitch. 

United have managed to claim their points thus far this campaign by a variety of different methods. They’ve been resilient against the leading outfits in the Premier League, coming from behind to earn draws against Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United – albeit the last one came after sacrificing a two-goal advantage. Their clash against Spurs was controversial with a disallowed VAR goal, denying Wilder and his team a victory on the road. However, they’ve also managed to attain important victories by blowing away Everton at Goodison Park and Burnley on home soil. 

It speaks volumes to the chemistry of the team that they are able to battle away on a week-to-week basis shifting their identity on their opponent. The system developed in the lower tiers of the English football pyramid has stood them in good stead, producing enough of a goal threat, while remaining a solid unit at the back. They’ve already kept five clean sheets this term, which has provided the foundation for their attackers in the final third to play with license, knowing that one goal will be enough to secure a vital win. 

Wilder’s development of his squad has perhaps been a more vital tool for the Blades this term. Their entire defence has taken the next step. John Egan has been a standout in the middle (Vis The Star) of the backline alongside Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham. George Baldock and Enda Stevens have been a model of consistency in the full-back positions, while Dean Henderson has continued his stellar form between the sticks after re-joining on a second loan spell from Man United.

Being able to bring the best out of players is a key element of a successful manager and there will certainly be other teams in the Premier League that wish their respective coaches could have the same effect on their players. 

John Lundstram is in a tie with Egan as the most valuable player of the campaign. He has scored three goals from the middle of the park and has provided an energetic presence throughout, becoming the lynchpin for Chris Wilder. As has John Fleck, who is now a regular in the Scotland set-up.

Wilder has even brought out the best in players that have been afterthoughts at other Premier League clubs – notably Lys Mousset, who has been a revelation off the bench for the Blades this term. Everything Chris Wilder has touched has turned to gold and if he continues, in the same manner, Sheffield United could well be on course for their highest finish in 28 years along with earning the plaudits for the feat!

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