Wilder quits Cobblers to take over as Sheffield United boss

Chris Wilder has left Northampton Town to take over as manager of Sky Bet League One rivals Sheffield United.

Thursday, 12th May 2016, 4:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th May 2016, 5:16 pm
NEW CHALLENGE - Chris Wilder has left the Cobblers to take up the manager's post at Sheffield United

Just days after steering the Cobblers to an emphatic league two title success, Wilder has decided it is time for a new challenge.

Town assistant manager Alan Knill has also quit the club to head for south Yorkshire, and head of sports science Matt Prestridge will join Wilder and Knill at Bramall Lane.

Chairman Kelvin Thomas is understandably disappointed to lose the trio, but is pleased it has been a swift process as he begins the search for a new manager at Sixfields.

PARTNERSHIP - Cobblers assistant boss Alan Knill (left) and Chris Wilder

It is somewthing of a dream move for Wilder, who was born in Sheffield, lives in Sheffield, is a former Sheffield United player and also a lifelong Blades fan.

“Clearly we are disappointed to lose Chris and Alan,” said Thomas.

“However in fairness Sheffield United is a very big club for this division and Chris has always been a fan.

“I think this opportunity was just too good for him to turn down.”

Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas

“We thank Chris, Alan, and Matt for all their hard work.

“I think it is safe to say that they have been the most successful management team at this club for a long time, and we wish them all the best for the future, or at least for 44 of the 46 games next season!”

The confirmation of Wilder’s departure caps off a roller-coaster of a week at Sixfields.

Only last Saturday the Cobblers wrapped up their record-breaking league two season with a 2-1 win at Portsmouth to finish the campaign 13 points clear at the top, extending their unbeaten record to 24 matches in the process.

Matt Prestridge

On Sunday, Wilder and his players took part in a triumphant open-top bus parade around the streets of Northampton, with 1,000s of supporters hailing their heroes.

Things couldn’t have been much better if you were a Cobblers fan - but then on Monday the bombshell was dropped that Charlton Athletic had made an official approach to the club in a bid to tempt Wilder to becoming manager at The Valley.

The club ‘regrettably’ allowed the Addicks permission to talk to Wilder and Knill, and it seemed certain the pair were on their way to south London, with reports opn Tuesday suggesting the deal was as good as done.

Town chairman Thomas even admitted he had ‘accepted’ that Wilder would be on his way, but a spanner was thrown in the works on Wednesday.

PARTNERSHIP - Cobblers assistant boss Alan Knill (left) and Chris Wilder

The deal between Wilder and Charlton broke down, and briefly Cobblers fans will have been cheered thinking the manager may be staying put, but that wasn’t the case.

Almost immediately after Charlton had announced they would not be appointing Wilder, the Cobblers issued a statement saying they believed a second club was interested in acquiring the Town manager’s services.

It was a clear indication that they weren’t expecting Wilder to be staying at Sixfields.

The rumour mill was then thrown into overdrive on Thursday when reports started surfacing in south Yorkshire that Sheffield United were about to sack their manager Nigel Adkins.

Immediately, Wilder was linked with a switch up the M1.

The sacking of Adkins was confirmed mid-morning on Thursday, and less than an hour later the Blades had made their official approach to the Cobblers, asking to talk to Wilder and Knill.

Cobblers chairman Kelvin Thomas

He was announced as the new manager on Thursday afternoon at Bramall Lane, and is expected to face the media for the first time as Blades boss on Friday.

Matt Prestridge