'Pound-for-pound Chris Wilder is the best manager out there' - Ian Holloway talks Sheffield United

Ian Holloway by Ian Holloway / 25 November 2019, 15:58

Pound-for-pound Chris Wilder has been the best manager out there over the last few years.

What he’s doing is different, they're his own ideas. He’s self taught and got a way of playing that the lads love. He’s so innovative, it’s unbelievable. 

Most managers are an adaptation of somebody, for example Pep Guardiola was heavily influenced by Johan Cruyff. But if you look at Wilder no one else is doing what he’s doing - I want to ask him who he’s been influenced by.

I think other people will start copying him soon if he continues with this success he’s having. 

It’s a bit like how Marcelo Bielsa is a guru for people, Wilder will be the same, everywhere he’s been he’s had success, and I can only see it continuing. Last season Bielsa even made a point of saying ‘well done’ to Wilder after Sheffield United beat Leeds.

I’ve got to take my cap off to him, he’s such a great fella.

Improving players

Wilder has taken his own initiative on how he thinks the game should be played, and imparted this on his players. Everyone is constantly improving beyond all measure.

The overlapping centre-backs - something I did myself a long time ago when I had similar players - and the way Wilder’s team can dominate the midfield area against higher-paid players is astounding.

The players believe in what he’s saying and understand what he wants. It’s extremely difficult to play against, teams are getting outnumbered on the flanks. 

How brilliant is Enda Stevens. He’s been fantastic and that’s down to his manager. Wilder makes players believe in themselves, whoever it is.

I’d love to play for him, I would die for him out there but unfortunately I’m too old and crusty now!


John Fleck, who played for me at Blackpool, is another one who Wilder’s getting the best out of. I’m delighted to see him do so well. He played brilliantly against Man Utd, getting a goal, then he played a wonderful pass for Lys Mousset’s goal. He was never the fittest but he looks so fit now, he gets around the pitch so well. Chris Basham I had as well.

Then you look how well Wilder’s got Oliver Norwood playing, what a wonderful passer of the ball he is. John Lundstram too, they’ve got a brilliant balance in that midfield. 

I think Wilder’s transfer business has been excellent. The skilful thing is he's signing great characters who have room to improve. Some of them might be dusty on the shelf, but he’s doing it brilliantly with everybody I have to say.

Oli McBurnie has been a slow-burner - excuse the pun - so far but I believed that he’s a fantastic player, he was excellent at Swansea, and that equaliser against Man Utd would have done his confidence the world of good.

If you look at Lys Mousset, who scored that wonderful goal against United, he didn’t really get a look in at Bournemouth but now Wilder’s got hold of him and he’s playing brilliantly. That’s not to say Eddie Howe couldn’t get the best of him, it’s all about the opportunity you get at each club, and the feel you get.

The atmosphere at Sheff Utd must be brilliant to be a part of. Wilder has got his players energised, and they are rocking. It’s amazing.

There’s a film out at the moment called Ford v Ferrari. Without being disrespectful Sheff Utd are the Ford, and the top teams in the Premier League are the Ferrari, yet Wilder’s got Sheff Utd running like a Ferrari!

The next test will be which players he can add to his squad to take his great work forward.

Wilder for a top job?

Wilder deserves to be talked about. If he does want to step up then if I was one of the top clubs in the Premier League I would definitely be looking at him. 

If he can do what he’s currently doing with the level of players at Sheff Utd, then imagine what he could do somewhere else. It would be amazing to see.

However, I would stress to Wilder: ‘why ruin a good thing that you’ve got going at the moment’.

It’s his hometown club. For him there’s no better job anywhere else in the world at the minute.

It would be lovely if he stays there and builds the club into something special.

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