After being named as Sheffield United’s new manager, Chris Wilder said his connection with the club’s board had been restored “a long time ago.”
Wilder made a stunning comeback to Bramall Lane when the club confirmed his replacement for Paul Heckingbottom.
Heckingbottom was fired as the Blades’ manager on Tuesday, becoming the first Premier League manager to be fired this season.
His sacking, which came just three days after Sheffield United were thrashed 5-0 by Burnley, was revealed on talkSPORT by Sheffield United owner Prince Abdullah before the club made a statement.
Wilder, 56, is back at Bramall Lane two and a half years after being fired by the Blades and replaced by Heckingbottom, and will be in charge against Liverpool at home on Wednesday.
His coaching staff will include Alan Knill, Matt Prestridge, and former Republic of Ireland international Keith Andrews.
“Quite simply, it was an opportunity that I just couldn’t turn down,’ said Wilder. ‘Just like in 2016, when this club comes calling, it is not something you pass up.
“This is Sheffield United; it is my team, and I am thrilled to be back. We find ourselves in a difficult position. I understand that, but I think I can make a difference.
“When I received the call from Stephen (Bettis) asking if I would consider coming back to try and help, I didn’t have to think about it. People know what this club means to me, and the task now is to try and provide a boost to improve our current situation.
“My relationship with Prince Abdullah and the board was repaired a long time ago. After some time passed following my initial departure, we spoke, met in person, and there was an amicable ending.
“Now, coming back as manager, to know there is a united front again is crucial as we look to work together to improve the club’s position in the Premier League.’
At Sheffield United, Wilder is regarded as one of the club’s greatest ever managers.
“Chris is practically an honor of the club; he’s part of Sheffield United history,” Prince Abdullah said.
“One thing I always like to do, not just in football but in all of my businesses, is to keep a good relationship with my ex-employees. No matter how it ends, I think you should get over it.
“At the end of the day, we’re all passionate about what we do, and we believe Chris is the right man for the job.
“Chris has done great things for the club, and in my opinion, he’s the best guy on planet earth to take over the club right now in these circumstances.”
Wilder stayed at the club for five years, from 2016 to 2021, until leaving by mutual consent due to the Blades’ poor league form.
Sheffield United recorded the worst ever start to a Premier League season in 2020–21, failing to win until the 18th game of the season.
Wilder took over as manager in 2016 and guided the club from League One to the Premier League. The Blades finished tenth in their first season back in the big leagues under Wilder in 2020.
Wilder’s most recent position was as manager of Watford. He was appointed in March and removed in May by Valerien Ismael.
Heckingbottom managed a difficult summer transfer window in which the Blades said farewell to promotion contenders Sander Berge and Iliman Ndiaye.
England Cameron Archer joined from Aston Villa for £18 million, while Gustavo Hamer moved from Coventry for £15 million, Vini Souza joined from Belgian side Lommel for £11 million, and Tom Davies joined on a free transfer from Everton.
The signings, however, have done little to improve the Blades’ fortunes, which have seen them score the fewest goals (11) and concede the most (39) in the league.
Heckingbottom said after the defeat on Saturday that he was feeling the pressure at Bramall Lane when sections of the visiting fans began screaming ‘Hecky out’ throughout the game.
“If the fans start, it changes the dynamic,’ said Heckingbottom. “The fans are right to shout and say we’re not good enough. You can’t kidnap them. I was as angry as well, almost singing along with them.
“Burnley would not have been expecting a game like that, and neither would I. It was massively disappointing but I can leave with my head held high. I know how I work.
“You’re asking the wrong person [about his future]. I’ve had those questions since September.”