In to the wilder-ness...

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So, how many seasons outside the Premiership ahead?

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Feb 24, 2021
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Unfortunately, Sheffield United is entering into a recurring phase all too familiar to Blades of Wilder's very own generation.

Last season's near-miss from European qualification echoes Ken Furphy's stunning 1974 Blades' performance, which was followed by a disastrous and unexpected relegation the following season, during which Furphy was sacked. No managerial nor formational continuity was maintained and a slow plummet to League 2 followed.

Qualifying for Europe last year would have been a game-changer and broken this clear cycle the club never breaks out of; it was that important and a chance to truly change the pattern was missed. Around 15 seasons out of the top flight followed.

Move on to the Basset years. Again an over-performing manager, who was initially retained when he couldn't keep us in the Championship. He then took us all the way back to the Premiership and was subsequently disposed of as soon as he could no longer keep us in. nor get us back to the top tier at the first attempt. Around 12 years in the cold, outside the elite ensued.

Mr Warnock emerges and patience eventually returns us to the Premiership, but by the time the relegation whistle had blown on our single season in the Premiership, the manager, who to this day knows more than most what it takes to get promoted from the Championship, was history.

Another dozen or so years fluctuating around the lower divisions and the incredible Mr Wilder arrives not only with passion, but also an ingenious style of play taking us from League 1 to the Premiership pronto and in style.

The fact that Wilder has left most probably indicates his ambition is greater than the club's at this point in time. I'm reminded of tinges of Brian Clough's departure from Derby County many years ago. Like Clough, though he may have some other tough lessons to learn in his managerial career, I'm sure Wilder will continue to move onwards and upwards successfully.

As for ourselves, what's it to be? 10, 12, 15 years outside the Premiership? The chance of a quick Norwich-style return seems to have bolted with yesterday's decision. Warnock was probably right with his quip "the glass is always half-empty around here."

The next choice of permanent manager will be a personification of the ambition and stewardship the directorate has for our club.

Up The Blades.

Sheffield United, FA Cup Winners 1899, 1902, 1915, 1925, 2021 (!?!)
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