Chris Wilder accepts that some Cobblers supporters might be ‘a little angry’ that he has left Sixfields to become the new boss of Sheffield United - but feels that ‘99.9 per cent of supporters will understand’ why he had to take the job at his hometown club.
Speaking after a busy day of media duties following his official unveiling as the Blades boss at Bramall Lane, Wilder took time out to talk to the Chron to explain to the Cobblers faithful his reasons for leaving the club he has just guided to the Sky Bet League Two title.
He spoke of the special pull for him of the Sheffield United job, he spoke of the tough decisions football managers have to make regarding their future, and he spoke of the special, special times he had with the Cobblers, especially this season that ended in title glory.
But first up, he spoke about his affinity with the Blades, and how it is a job he could not turn down.
“Everybody knows my history with Sheffield United, from being a young ball-boy, a supporter, a young player at the club, right the way through really,” said Wilder, who has signed a three-year deal with the Blades.
“It has been a mad couple of days, but I don’t think anybody can deny taking me this opportunity and look back with anything negative about me joining this club.
There were the special days, the special goals, the big results, and the end of the season, getting promoted against Bristol Rovers... I am so proud I was part of a special group of players, staff and supportersFormer Cobblers boss Chris Wilder
“I appreciate some people might be annoyed or a little bit angry, but I think 99.9 per cent of the Northampton supporters would understand my situation, and hopefully wish me all the best.”
Before deciding to take the United job, Wilder was also close to joining Charlton Athletic, and he admits making the decision to even talk to both parties was a ‘tough decision’, but that he is an ambitious football manager, and these decisions have to be taken.
Just as it was a tough decision to quit Oxford United for the Cobblers in January, 2014.
“It is always about tough decisions. I made a tough decision to go into Halifax in the first place when they came out of the Football League,” said the 48-year-old.
“I had tough decisions at Oxford, and I had the decision to leave there when we were third in the table.
“This was also a tough decision, it certainly wasn’t a straightforward one.
“It wasn’t a straightforward decision to go and speak to Charlton, and even in the little period now (before taking the Blades job) there has been a couple of calls.
“But I think there was always one job that would be a head-turner for me, and this is the one at Sheffield United.
“I have been in management a fair while, and I have been linked with this job before due to my past connections, but you always think that one day you will get the opportunity to do the job, and I am grateful for that.”
Wilder says he will always look back fondly on his time at Northampton, even though things didn’t always run smoothly in his 28 months in charge.
“I don’t have any feelings of disappointment about my time at Northampton, except possibly the little period at the start of the season when I have brought a load of players in and we had the financial troubles,” he said.
“But before that, there was the reception I got when I came into the club, and the end of the season when we stayed in the Football League.
“There was rebuilding the next season and we had a sticky period before and after Christmas, but after that it was good progression and steady progression.
“Then this season it just took off.
“I have met a lot of great people at the club, I have got fantastic memories, as we all have, of this season.
“When you leave a football club, depending on the way you leave there is sometimes bitterness, but from my point of view I wish everybody the best.
“The way the club have handled everything right the way through has been great, and the chairman has been top drawer.
“There is the players and the staff, we have gone through a lot together, and then there is the support, and the scenes right the way through the season.
“There were the special days, the special goals, the big results, and the end of the season, getting promoted against Bristol Rovers, and we had so many of them it was ridiculous.
“There was Bristol Rovers, Exeter, Luton and topped off at Portsmouth, which was then topped off with the end of season parade.
“That was just amazing, and I am so proud I was part of a special group of players, staff and supporters.”