Chris Wilder has spoken of his pride over the journey Sheffield United went on during his time as manager.
After taking charge of his boyhood club in 2016, Wilder guided them from League One to the Premier League and a ninth-placed finish in 2019-20 before departing last month with the Blades bottom of the table.
In a statement published on the League Managers Association website on Wednesday, Wilder said: “When I walked back into Bramall Lane, in May 2016, having been given the chance to manage the club I’d supported all my life, who could have predicted the next four-and-a-half years?
“It has been some journey and one I’m immensely proud of.
“Slowly but surely we went about our business, taking the rough with the smooth and staying humble as we began to build momentum that would take us to the heights of the Premier League and a highest ever finish in the modern era.
“We were in good form when Covid hit last year and who knows how far we could have gone? You could not avoid the talk of possible European football – hopefully that kept a few Unitedites going in a tough period.
“As proved this season, football is just not the same without fans and I stand by the comment that I’ve made on numerous occasions, the club have missed out more than most. Unitedites have the ability to turn losses into draws and draws into wins.
“I cannot stress enough how important the fans are and I’ve been humbled by the unequivocal support, even this season when things haven’t gone so well.”
The 53-year-old, who said he was “enjoying a period of reflection at home in a city that I love” before deciding what he will do next, added: “I lived the dream of every Blades fan and I hope every one of them understands that I tried to represent them correctly in ‘giving them their club back’, a phrase that has been said to me quite a few times. And one I verbally believe we did!”
Wilder also said he would “like to wish everyone associated with the football club and the owners the very best in the future.”
The club announced on March 13 that Wilder had left by mutual consent. Tensions between Wilder and club owner Prince Abdullah Bin Musa’ad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud had recently heightened.
Later in March, Prince Abdullah claimed in an interview with Sky Sports that Wilder had twice wanted to resign before he left.
The Yorkshire outfit, now with Paul Heckingbottom managing until the end of the season, are 18 points from safety with seven games to go.
Meanwhile, club captain Billy Sharp has revealed he is to miss the rest of the campaign following an operation.
The 35-year-old striker, who had not been involved in the last three matches, has undergone surgery on a thigh injury sustained in training.
Sharp said in an Instagram post on Wednesday: “Always gutting to miss games so to be ruled out for the remainder of the season hurts.
“Sadly the injury was worse than I’d hoped but operation went well and will be back stronger next season to get my 250th goal in front of a packed Bramall Lane.”
Sharp scored the 249th goal of his professional career in a 1-0 FA Cup win over Bristol City in February. He has netted 98 times for Sheffield United since rejoining them in 2015 for a third spell with the club.
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