Chris Wilder makes his first return to Sixfields as a manager on Saturday since leaving the club in the wake of the Cobblers’ Sky Bet League Two title success last year.
Wilder is sure to get a rousing reception from the Cobblers faithful, who are grateful not only for the fact he guided them to some rare silverware and promotion, but also his major part in saving the club from possible extinction.
Cobblers defender David Buchanan knows Wilder very well, having worked with him at Bury and been signed by him for the Cobblers in the summer of 2015, and here he gives an insight into what what makes the 49-year-old from Sheffield such a special manager...
When Chris Wilder took the job at Sheffield United, a lot of people were sceptical about how he would do at a ‘big club’, but not me!
Having worked with Chris in numerous roles throughout my career, I knew he was the perfect man to finally get his beloved Blades back to the Championship.
The job he did last year for us at Northampton was nothing short of remarkable.
With our great club on the verge of going out of existence, it was the gaffer who led from the front with an inspirational speech following the team’s 2-1 victory at Notts County.
A snippet of what he said that night was ‘I’m so proud of the players, the staff and the supporters, the unity that everybody is showing in backing us is incredible - but we can’t wait too long to get this deal done’
What he said that day at Meadow Lane gave everybody a massive boost, and was the start of the togetherness that typified last season!
The great quality about Chris is that he has a lot of ‘old school’ ethics about what he expects from his players and staff.
If he gives you a job to do, he expects it done wholeheartedly.
He’s not a manager who spends every second out the training pitch with the players, he leaves a lot of the coaching to Alan Knill, especially in the early part of the week.
Then on a Thursday and Friday both Chris and Alan are very meticulous in working on team shape and the strengths and weaknesses of the opposition.
The relationship the ‘Gaffer’ and ‘Knilly’ has, is one rare in football.
Even if they have different titles, I believe they are firmly one.
They have a friendship and a working relationship, where both respect each other’s roles.
Chris enjoys managing players and Alan enjoys coaching them, however they both have the same philosophy in how they want a team to play and what they expect from their players.
My relationship with Chris was very good.
I think we had a lot of respect for each other and we treated each other as human beings first rather than manager and player.
I have a lot to thank him for, firstly for making a better footballer, but most importantly for bringing me to the Cobblers.
I will be the first to congratulate him when Sheffield United are promoted.