It seems like only the week before last that I was saying just how good the Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is. And with Aston Villa promoted to the Premier League this afternoon via the playoffs, this graphic made it on to my twitter feed:
Now, in no way am I saying that £8.6million is not a lot of money, but everything is relative and when you see it relative to how much others have spent (and you note that Leeds and Derby didn’t even get promoted), suddenly it doesn’t seem like that much of a lot of money.
In fact, compare it with the money flying around the top leagues of Europe and it’s less than 10% of a Paul Pogba (hopefully you don’t get the 10% with the mouth or the mood swings), and just 4% of a Neymar. And that’s all we’ve spent in the last three years.
Wilder is clearly very shrewd when it comes to the transfer market, and very good at getting the best from the players he has. That’s a great skill to have in the lower leagues, but can it translate to buying the right players (here I am assuming that he has the right money to do so) to stay up in the Premier League? Obviously, I hope so. But I’m also a realist:
Just checking now, we’re the hot favourites to be relegated next season (4/6 on), with Norwich (4/5) and Villa (11/10) close behind. Burnley, Brighton, Newcastle and Southampton are considered the most at risk of those who survived this season. Given the recent record of promoted teams, that’s no surprise, but we’ve bucked the odds before and I’m sure we’ll make every effort to do it again.
The kerfuffle of the Championship season run-in may have just about blown over for Blades fans, but the excitement is only just beginning to build and the awards for our manager keep on coming in:
Add that to LMA Championship Manager of the Year, EFL Championship Manager of the Year and EFL Manager of the Year and you can maybe begin to understand what a special talent this guy has. I mean, he could have spent over £20 million over two years on new players, got six fewer points and we could still be in the Championship next season, but that didn’t happen*.
Next season is going to be very, very tough, and simply surviving is going to be the objective. But I’d rather be playing Liverpool than Luton Town, Man City than Millwall, Chelsea than Charlton. We’ll get beaten – maybe quite often – but at least we’re in the Premier League, and that’s mainly down to this guy.
I’m not one for chicken counting, and I am most certainly not counting my chickens now, but there’s a line in a song that says:
Come along and share the good times while we can
and a massive effort by United away at Hull City, and an equally huge result for Brentford at home to Leeds means that this evening are exactly those good times they were singing about and I’m sharing them.
A win in either of our last two games means that – incredibly (and I mean that literally, because I really cannot believe it) – Sheffield United will be back in the Premier League.
I don’t know what to do with myself. I’m going to be a nervous wreck for the next 5 days and in complete pieces for the duration of the match on Saturday evening. Apparently, we’re planning to be at a braai that night.