Chris Wilder’s transition into a Premier League manager this season has been seamless, and has guided Sheffield United to a steady start back in the top flight.
The former Northampton Town and Oxford United boss has led the Blades to nine points from their opening eight fixtures, leaving them in a healthy 13th place going into the second international break of the campaign.
It would be fair to say that Wilder has won many admirers following the work he has done with the South Yorkshire side, guiding them to the League One title in 2016/17 before then finishing second in the Championship in 2018/19.
One of those admirers is former Blackpool and Crystal Palace manager Ian Holloway. When was asked on Twitter what he thought about Wilder and the job he had done at Bramall Lane, he said: “Pure genius. What I love about him, he’s done it everywhere he’s been, played a brilliant way – his own way. The bloke’s a genius.”
As someone who has guided clubs from the Championship to the Premier League himself, Holloway certainly knows what it is like to make the transition.
There is no doubt that Wilder looks perfectly at home in the top flight, and he has already shown his tactical nous. In the Championship he played a 3-5-2 system which saw his two outside centre-backs overlapping wing-backs and supporting attacks.
That formation also included a ‘number 10’ playing in behind the strikers, which was usually Mark Duffy. However, aware that they needed more power and control in midfield, Wilder has dropped the attacking midfielder and now plays a flat three in midfield of John Fleck, Oliver Norwood and John Lundstram.
The switch has worked to great effect, indeed Lundstram was the man brought into the 11 in place of Duffy and he himself has made a brilliant start to the season, even chipping in with a goal and an assist (via Transfermarkt).
His use of overlapping centre-backs has led Jamie Redknapp to describe Wilder as the “most forward-thinking manager in the Premier League”.
There can be no doubt, Wilder is quickly establishing himself as a top Premier League manager and may well be, as Holloway says, a genius.
Will Sheffield United avoid the drop?
Sheffield United fans, how far can you go under Chris Wilder? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…
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