Premier League managers’ playing careers rated, including Frank Lampard and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

4 Sep

All 20 Premier League managers have done exceptionally well to get into the position they’re in.

They’re in charge of teams in, arguably, the best league in the world – but what were they like as players?

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola played for Barcelona at senior level for over ten years
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Some reached the very top of football, playing for huge clubs including Chelsea, Manchester United and Barcelona.

However, others didn’t have so much to put on their CV’s when they were trying to break into management.

Below you can see where each Premier League manager ranks based on their playing careers, according to talkSPORT.com.

20. Roy Hodgson (Crystal Palace)

The veteran manager is best known for his days in the dugout and with good reason too.

Hodgson played for Palace at youth level but could never break into the first-team and then went on to play non-league football at a string of clubs for several years.

He began his training to become a coach in his early twenties so it’s no surprise Hodgson occupies bottom spot in this chart.

Hodgson never really made it as a player
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19. Brendan Rodgers (Leicester City)

He didn’t have much of a playing career at senior level but this was through no fault of Rodgers.

The Northern Irishman, who has managed Swansea and Liverpool in the Premier League before taking his current post at Leicester, had to retire as a professional at 20-years-old due to a genetic knee injury.

Like Hodgson, Rodgers studied coaching very young and has built up his name ever since.

18. Daniel Farke (Norwich City)

The German has taken Norwich back to the big time and their attractive playing style should see the Canaries get a lot of good results this season.

Farke, 42, has already achieved more as a manager than he ever did as a player
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However, Farke’s career as a player was not so good as he spent his short playing career in the lower levels of German football, representing SV Lippstadt, Bonner SC and SV Meppen.

17. Eddie Howe (Bournemouth)

Another one whose playing career was blighted by injury, Cherries boss Howe enjoyed limited success before turning to management.

He begun his career at Bournemouth and was signed by Harry Redknapp at Portsmouth in 2002 but sustained a knee injury shortly afterwards.

Pompey got promoted to the Premier League in 2003 but Howe was not part of that success and he eventually hung up his boots in 2007, aged 29.

It’s likely Howe would have had more success as a player were it not for his injuries
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16. Chris Wilder (Sheffield United)

Sheffield United manager Wilder is living the dream by managing the club he supports in the top flight and he was arguably living the dream at the start of his playing career too by playing for them.

But after six years at Bramall Lane, via four different loan spells, Wilder was offloaded to Rotherham United.

The former right-back played for eleven different clubs in his playing career but did not see any kind of success compared to what he’s experienced as a manager.

15. Dean Smith (Aston Villa)

Villans boss Smith played for five different clubs in the football league over a 16-year playing career but his success was limited.

Smith is now in charge of Villa, the team he grew up supporting
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Smith came close to achieving promotion to the third tier of English football with Leyton Orient but the O’s lost in the play-off final twice.

The closest he ever got to the Premier League as a player was when he was at Sheffield Wednesday, who were one league below for one season.

14. Sean Dyche (Burnley)

A promising start to former Nottingham Forest man Dyche’s playing career was put on hold by a broken leg and after that he had to settle with bouncing around clubs in the lower divisions.

Probably the most memorable moment of his playing career saw him reach the FA Cup semi-finals with Chesterfield in 1997 where they almost beat Premier League side Middlesbrough.

12. Sean Dyche (Burnley)
Dyche almost helped Chesterfield to surprise FA Cup glory
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Dyche scored a penalty which put Chesterfield 2-0 up against Boro at Old Trafford but the game finished 3-3. Boro booked their place in the final by winning the replay 3-0.

13. Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool)

By his own admission, Klopp was not a particularly talented footballer and probably would have moved into management sooner than he did if Mainz let him.

Klopp played for five different German clubs but his days at Mainz are what his playing days are best known for.

He played for them for eleven years but never played in the Bundesliga despite going close to promotion a couple of times. He became manager in February 2001 and the rest as they say is history.

Klopp has achieved plenty as a manager, however
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12. Marco Silva (Everton) 

The Toffees boss edges out Klopp as he managed to make a grand total of two appearances in Portugal’s top flight but Silva didn’t have much of a playing career.

These appearances came while on loan at S.C. Campomaiorense but Silva spent most of his playing days at second or third division clubs in Portugal.

11. Graham Potter (Brighton)

You could argue that Potter has somewhat come from nowhere in recent seasons, however, he has plenty of experience playing in England.

The Brighton boss played for twelve different clubs including a season-long spell at Southampton in the Premier League, which helped him earn his only international cap for England’s Under-21 side.

It remains to be seen whether Potter will be a success as Brighton boss
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10. Manuel Pellegrini (West Ham)

The Chilean was a one-club man throughout his 13-year playing career, representing Universidad de Chile.

Pellegrini started when the club were going through a lean patch of form but they won the league title in 1979. He hung up his boots in 1986 aged 32.

9. Unai Emery (Arsenal)

Although he made just five LaLiga appearances, Emery enjoyed a decent career playing in the second tier of Spanish football, making over 200 appearances over the space of seven seasons.

However, a knee injury brought the Arsenal manager’s playing career to a premature end in 2004/05 and he retired from the game aged 32.

Emery has managed some big sides in Europe including Valencia, Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain
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8. Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton)

Saints boss Hasenhuttl spent most of his playing career in his homeland of Austria and enjoyed a good amount of success there.

He won the Austrian Bundesliga four times and Austrian Cup twice, before having a spell with German side FC Cologne which didn’t really work out.

7. Javi Gracia (Watford)

After breaking into LaLiga by helping UE Lleida achieve promotion in 1993, Gracia established himself as a top flight player.

He went down a division by signing for Villarreal in 1999 but was part of their side which got promoted before going back down four years later with Cordoba where he saw out the final year of his playing days.

Gracia is Watford’s longest ever serving manager in the Premier League, having been appointed in January 2018
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6. Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham)

Die hard England fans will know Pochettino as the player who gave away a penalty during England’s victory over Argentina at the 2002 World Cup, even if Michael Owen did go down a bit too easily.

The Argentine played at a good level though, representing Espanyol for ten years over two spells and played for French giants Paris Saint-Germain for two years.

Pochettino’s most notable achievements as a player include two Copa del Rey titles.

He can also count Ronaldinho as a former teammate, while he shared a room with Diego Maradona on international duty with Argentina.

5. Nuno Espirito Santo (Wolves)

The Wolves boss won a bucket load of trophies in Portugal, particularly during his days at Porto.

Nuno won a surprising amount of trophies as a player
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Nuno won the Primeira Liga five times, the UEFA Cup and a Champions League title under a certain Jose Mourinho.

However, it should be noted that Nuno was the second choice goalkeeper throughout his glory days at Porto.

4. Pep Guardiola (Manchester City)

All this man knows is success. Guardiola has won trophies as a player and a manager.

The Manchester City boss is best known as a player for Barcelona where he won LaLiga five times, the Copa del Rey twice and was also in the team which helped them win the European Cup in 1992 – the Blaugrana’s first title in Europe’s premier club competition.

He also had some success at international level, helping Spain to Olympic gold at the 1992 games in Barcelona.

3. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer (Manchester United)

If Solskjaer can have similar success as Manchester United manager as he did as a player then fans will be happy.

Solskjaer’s best moment as a player saw him score the winner in the 1999 Champions League final
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The Norwegian won six Premier Leagues, two FA Cups and a Champions League title in 1999, scoring the winning goal in the dramatic 2-1 triumph over Bayern Munich.

Solskjaer was something of a fringe player at Old Trafford at times but that was only due to the huge talent the United squad had when he was there.

2. Steve Bruce (Newcastle United)

His managerial career has had plenty of setbacks but there’s no doubting Bruce enjoyed a great playing career.

Bruce is best known for his days at Manchester United where he won three Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

Amazingly though, he never made a senior appearance for England’s national team despite captaining the Red Devils.

Steve Bruce (left) helped United win their first league title in 27 years
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1. Frank Lampard (Chelsea)

But at the top has to be new Chelsea boss Lampard, who is arguably the club’s greatest ever player.

Super Lamps, as he’s affectionately known, won everything on offer for club players including the Premier League, FA Cup, Europa League and Champions League.

He also finished second to Ronaldinho in the Ballon d’Or awards in 2005.

Lampard is Chelsea’s all-time leading goalscorer
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Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Sheffield United are the first Premier League club to name two consecutive line-ups with just British and Irish players since 2012

19 Aug

Sheffield United have had a superb start to their Premier League campaign.

Picking up a hard-fought point at Bournemouth followed by a victory at home to Crystal Palace may well prove to be vital results come the end of the season, with many expecting the Blades to be fighting for their place in the English top flight come May.

Lundstram scored the only goal of the game as Sheffield United claimed their first win of the campaign against Palace
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Chris Wilder’s side is littered with English talent – which is somewhat refreshing given the fact that many teams in the division struggle to name even one homegrown player in their starting line-up.

In fact, on Sunday, Wilder named a fully British and Irish XI in consecutive games – and this is the first time this has happened since April 2012.

How Sheffield United looked against Crystal Palace
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With a little help from our friends over at Opta, it has been established the last club to do this was Norwich under Paul Lambert.

The Canaries fielded an all English/Irish team in FIVE consecutive matches, with the likes of Steve Morison, Kyle Naughton and John Ruddy all tearing up the Premier League.

How Norwich looked back in 2012 against Liverpool
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However even after the victory over Palace, Wilder said his players will need to become more ‘streetwise’ as they continue to adjust to Premier League football.

Wilder named a all English/Irish XI for the first time since
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During the game Wilder’s team – and the majority of the 30,197 crowd inside Bramall Lane – became increasingly frustrated by the amount of free-kicks awarded against them.

Wilder acknowledged that United need to brush up on some of the tricks of the trade.”Maybe we’ve got to become a little bit more streetwise in our play,” he said.

“It’s a contact sport and that is part and parcel of what we do, but maybe at times we’ve got to be a little bit cuter ourselves. But that’s something we’ll get to grips with as we go along.”

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Oli McBurnie joins Sheffield United from Swansea as Premier League side smash transfer record again

2 Aug

Sheffield United have confirmed the signing of striker Oli McBurnie from Swansea for a club-record transfer.

The fee for the 23-year-old is believed to be in the region of £17.5million, with the rest of the offer dependant on add-ons.

The Scotland international, who scored 22 goals in the Championship last season, has agreed a four-year contract at Bramall Lane.

“We’ve had to be patient and work very hard to get Oli but I am confident he will be a tremendous success,” Blades boss Chris Wilder told sufc.co.uk.

“We need options at the top of the pitch and Oli, as anyone who has watched a significant amount of Championship football will tell you, offers plenty in that area.”

“He fits the profile of our transfer policy this season and is at an age where his better years are ahead of him – hopefully he and the club can continue to grow together.”

The Premier League newcomers broke their club record in signing striker Lys Mousset for £10m from Bournemouth earlier this month.

They have also signed forward Callum Robinson, midfielders Ravel Morrison, Luke Freeman and Ben Osborn, former defender Phil Jagielka and keeper Dean Henderson.

Wilder continued: “I’m delighted with the transfer business over the summer, Oli is a big piece of the jigsaw, and the squad is shaping up ready for what will be a long and demanding season.

Wilder has recruited significantly this summer
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“Over the years we’ve had the stigma of being a selling club and, of course, there will be sales in the future, but it should be noted that we are a buying club.

“We’ve spent a significant amount and the owners deserve a huge amount of credit for the way they have sanctioned our assault on the transfer market.”

McBurnie began his career at Bradford and the Bantams, relegated to League Two last season, are set for a windfall having put a sell-on clause in the deal that took him to Swansea in 2015.

Adrian Durham tips Sheffield United to be relegated from the Premier League and insists captain Billy Sharp is not good enough

26 Jul

Adrian Durham has slammed Sheffield United for ‘not taking the Premier League seriously’ and tipped the Blades for automatic relegation.

Chris Wilder’s men secured promotion from the Championship last season, just two years after running away with the League One title.

Despite being backed by a Saudi billionaire, United are not a side who simply throw their money at players to attract new talent to Bramall Lane.

Adrian Durham believes the Blades are heading straight back to the Championship
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Conversely, Wilder has displayed his tactical nous on several occasions and made the best out of the players he has. The Blades defied footballing logic by playing in a 3-5-2 formation with overlapping centre-backs, while still maintaining a fantastic defensive record.

However, despite their fantastic achievements to reach the top flight, Durham believes a return to the second tier awaits United.

Sheffield United are going down, Durham said. “They’re not even taking the Premier League seriously.

“They’re still bigging up Billy Sharp, and as much as I love Billy Sharp; great record, absolute legend, local boy came good, third spell at the club, but he is League One.

“He’s not good enough for the Premier League and with the greatest of respect, it’s all sentimental bull that Sheffield United are hoping will take them through to 17th in the Premier League.

Billy Sharp scores against Chesterfield in pre-season
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SHEFFIELD UNITED'S SUMMER SIGNINGS

  • Lys Mousset (Bournemouth) – £10m
  • Callum Robinson (Preston) – £7m
  • Luke Freeman (QPR) – £5M
  • Phil Jagielka (Everton) – Free
  • Ravel Morrison (Ostersunds) – Free
  • Dean Henderson (Manchester United) – Loan

“Now, it’s all well and good because they will enjoy the ride and all that, but when they end up being worse than Huddersfield that’s when you’ve got an issue.

“When you’ve got a team that’s not being competitive, all they’re doing is signing Championship players and saying ‘Isn’t this great, Billy Sharp is in the Premier League’.

“That’s not taking the Premier League seriously, they’re underestimating the jump from Championship to Premier League and I feel a bit uncomfortable about it.”

Chris Wilder: The Sheffield United manager’s biggest strengths and the secrets behind his success, according to former player

11 Jun

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder was dubbed the ‘manager of the century’ by fellow coach Phil Brown in October 2017.

It seemed a pretty outlandish claim at the time but given Wilder’s Sheffield United will be playing in the Premier League next season – the Blades’ second promotion in the space of three seasons – it’s definitely not the most outrageous claim made in football.

Wilder and his beloved Blades will take part in the Premier League next season
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Wilder has had brilliant success elsewhere – guiding Oxford United back into the Football League in 2010 and stabilising them in League Two before getting Northampton Town promoted into League One in 2016.

To a casual observer Wilder may seem like a normal bloke, born and bred in Stocksbridge, Sheffield but these achievements are far from normal.

But what is Wilder the man like and what are the secrets behind his managerial successes?

talkSPORT.com had a chat with Ryan Clarke, who played as a goalkeeper under Wilder at Oxford and Northampton in the seasons where both sides got promoted.

“You didn’t want to cross him,” Clarke recalls of his earliest memory of Wilder.

Clarke, who’s now at National League South club Bath City, arrived at the Kassam Stadium in May 2009 from Salisbury City and admits he wasn’t aware at first that the plan was to win promotion back into the Football League at Oxford. He soon learnt.

Intense training sessions with very high standards – no one was allowed to slack off. And if you didn’t buy into Wilder’s methods, you were gone.

However, Wilder was not just the strict enforcer at Oxford.

Clarke adds: “He was a man’s man really. He was up for a laugh and a joke. As long as you do things properly he’ll look after you. But he could be quite ruthless.

“He got the best out of me as a player.”

talkSPORT.com spoke to Clarke, who played under Wilder at Oxford and Northampton
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“One of his strong points is that he knew the players on the other teams inside-out. We’d do tactical stuff towards the end of the week and we’d know the other players inside-out. His knowledge of the league, even in League Two was very good.

“One of his favourite sayings was ‘if you lose one or two, you certainly don’t lose three’. I don’t think we ever did that [lose three in a row] because he always got the right sort of players in.”

And in May 2010, it was mission accomplished for Oxford as they got back into the Football League four years after being relegated with a 3-1 victory over York City in the play-off final, leaving the Yellows faithful with memories that will last a lifetime.

Wilder was unable to get Oxford up another league but his talents were not going unnoticed and he became manager of Northampton in January 2014, bringing Clarke with him in July 2015.

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The Cobblers could have been forgiven for failing to produce on the pitch as in October 2015, HM Revenue and Customs came knocking at Sixfields Stadium with a winding up petition over unpaid taxes.

All that uncertainty at the club could have taken its toll on the players and manager.

In the end, Northampton won League Two in the 2015/16 campaign, finishing the season on 99 points.

Clarke said: “That never really affected us to be fair. There was stuff going on in the background but the players just got on with it.”

“We had a very experienced squad [at Northampton] with a lot of promotion experience within the team. Because the team was doing so well, Chris didn’t actually have to manage the team a lot because the boys were just taking care of it and it just snowballed.

“But at the same time the reason that was the case is because he brought the right sort of players in.

Clarke holds the League Two trophy after Northampton’s brilliant 2015/16 season on the pitch
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However, that summer Wilder and Northampton would part company because the manager received an offer from boyhood club Sheffield United. He couldn’t refuse it.

It’s been a whirlwind at Brammall Lane over the last three seasons and now the Blades find themselves in the big time once again.

But what is Wilder’s biggest strength?

Clarke said: “Probably his man-management – how to get the best out of players. He knows which ones need a kick up the backside, the ones that need an arm around them and the ones that he just needs to leave alone.

“His man-management is very good and I think that’s going to stand in him in good stead going into the Premier League because you’ve got to be able to man-manage players on huge amounts of money and it’s a big jump up. That’s a massive thing in today’s game.”

Clarke believes Wilder’s brilliant man-management skills helps him get the best out of his players
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And can Wilder keep Sheffield United in the top flight?

Clarke added: “It’ll be a tough ask but yeah I think he can. If there’s one thing he can do it’s when things aren’t going well it’s getting his team back on track.

“That’s another thing he’s very good at. That might be crucial because it’s going to be a hell of a tough season for them.

“I’ve not been in and around the changing rooms [at Sheffield United] but you can imagine the sorts of things that are going on and I’m sure he’s gone about his business in a similar way to what he’s done in the past because it’s worked well.”

Chris Wilder celebrates promotion with Sheffield United
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So whether Wilder can get Sheffield United to make the jump into becoming an established Premier League side remains to be seen.

But it’s clear he’s as ready as he’ll ever be for that challenge because he can do a little bit of everything.

Manchester United transfer news: Sheffield United hopeful of re-signing Red Devils goalkeeper Dean Henderson next season

25 May

Sheffield United are in discussions with Manchester United about re-signing goalkeeper Dean Henderson on loan.

The 22-year-old was instrumental as the Blades were promoted to the Premier League this season.

Dean Henderson impressed for Sheffield United this season
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He kept 21 clean sheets in 46 matches as they finished second in the Championship and picked up the Golden Glove award.

Manchester United’s own goalkeeping situation remain uncertain, with doubts over the future of Spain star David De Gea, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer appears to be open to the idea of again loaning out his England Under-21 international.

David De Gea could leave Manchester United this summer
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“We’re working our way through it,” Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder told Press Association Sport.

“We’ve been in discussions with Manchester United and I think they see it as a positive that he gets a year of Premier League football under his belt.

“I know Dean definitely wants to stop and our supporters absolutely adore him.

“We’ve got a good relationship with Manchester United and if Dean signs we’ll be delighted.

“He’s been outstanding since he’s been at the club. He had a fantastic loan period at Shrewsbury, he’s kicked on and has a wonderful future ahead of him.”

The Blades secured promotion to the top tier just two seasons after being crowned League One champions.

Wilder’s squad is made up of entirely British and Irish players and the 51-year-old, who was named the League Managers’ Association Manager of the Year, does not envisage change as he prepares to embark on the biggest challenge of his career.

“These are the players I know the best,” said Wilder, who has won promotion to all four divisions in the English Football League.

Chris Wilder led Sheffield United to promotion to the Premier League

“We’ve not dipped into the foreign market and that’s not to say that down the line I wouldn’t.

“But I trust this group of players and I trust my own eye in terms of the players we’ll bring in. It’s worked for us.

“Nuno (Espirito Santo) at Wolves signs Portuguese players, David Wagner at Huddersfield signed German players. I don’t think I’m bucking the trend in any way, it’s just players I know and trust.”

From non-league to Premier League – Looking at Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder’s meteoric rise up English football

11 May

They don’t make many like Chris Wilder these days.

The Sheffield lad has worked wonders at his hometown club Sheffield United – earning them promotion to the Premier League less than three years after taking charge when they were drifting in League One.

It’s been some journey for Sheffield United and particularly Wilder
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Saying that, United weren’t just drifting. They were in dire straights just before he arrived.

They finished 11th at the end of the 2015/16 season – arguably the club’s darkest days since they were relegated to the old Fourth Division in 1981.

Their final match of the campaign saw them lose 2-0 at home to Scunthorpe and the players took part in a ‘lap of shame’ after the dismal defeat. Big changes were needed.

And big changes came. Out went Nigel Adkins and in came Stocksbridge-born Wilder who was tasked with getting United back on track.

Wilder with assistant manager Alan Knill during their first season at Bramall Lane

It seemed an almost impossible task but Wilder has brought his club back into the big time and they’ve made a decent start to the 2019/20 season – drawing 1-1 at Bournemouth before beating Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane last weekend.

In fact, this win over Palace saw Wilder and Sheffield United achieve 77 league wins since the start of the 2016/17 campaign.

This stat is made all the more impressive when you realise Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is the only manager in England’s top four divisions to win more league matches in that time frame with 88, according to Opta.

Next, the Blades play Leicester City at home on Saturday at 3pm – a match you can listen to LIVE on talkSPORT 2 – the second of our three live commentaries on GameDay.

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Check out all the live commentaries coming up across the talkSPORT network this week

  • Norwich vs Chelsea (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Derby vs West Brom (Saturday, 12:30pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Sheffield United vs Leicester (Saturday, 3pm) – talkSPORT 2
  • Liverpool vs Arsenal (Saturday, 5:30pm) – talkSPORT
  • Swansea vs Birmingham (Sunday, 12pm) – talkSPORT 2

Win that and United will have seven points from their opening three Premier League matches of the season – a fabulous return for a club tipped to head straight back down to the Championship by the bookies.

Promotion and thriving into the top flight continues an excellent personal journey for Wilder that has seen him go from non-league to thriving in the Premier League with Oxford United and Northampton Town being the other main beneficiaries of Wilder’s work.

He arrived at the Kassam Stadium in December 2008 with Oxford stuck in the rut of the Conference following their relegation out of the Football League in 2006.

The Yellows almost reached the play-offs that season but missed out on the final day.

In fact, they would have snuck in had they not received a five-point deduction for fielding an unregistered player in November 2008 – something that happened before Wilder was manager.

Wilder got Oxford out of the footballing wilderness in under 18 months

But Oxford meant business the season after and made a fast start.

They had to settle for a play-off spot though – finishing third in the league.

But Wilder took them back to the Football League with a 3-1 win over York City in the final at Wembley.

Wilder’s slide down the touchline of the Wembley turf when Alfie Potter slammed home the goal which sealed the victory is still talked about by the Oxford faithful now.

He stabilised Oxford in League Two although a disappointing end to the 2011/12 season saw them slip out of the play-off spots at the end of the season.

Chris Wilder's winning habit

Below are the top five managers from England's top four divisions to have won the most league matches since the beginning of the 2016/17 season

1) Pep Guardiola (Manchester City) – 88

2) Chris Wilder (Sheffield United) – 77

3) Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool) – 75

4) Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham) – 73

5) Paul Tisdale (Exeter City and MK Dons) – 70

But by this stage, his work wasn’t going unnoticed and Wilder was later snapped up by Northampton Town in January 2014.

He was joining a club fighting relegation in League Two so it was seen as a strange move.

But after keeping the Cobblers in the division, Wilder began to get a tune out of the players.

Northampton finished in a stable twelfth the following year – finishing just above former club Oxford on goal difference.

And then Wilder was faced with a new kind of test early in the 2015/16 campaign.

In October 2015, HM Revenue and Customs came knocking at Sixfields Stadium with a winding up petition over unpaid taxes.

With so much uncertainty around the club and the huge debts it had managed to rack up for the construction of their stadium, it would have been no surprise to see the Wilder wheels come off.

That’s not what happened.

Northampton went on to win the league with 99 points and they were in League One – Oxford claiming the other automatic promotion spot incidentally.

Wilder with Marc Richards and David Buchanan AND the League Two trophy!

But the joy at Northampton soon turned to disappointment as Wilder’s boyhood club came calling.

There was an almighty task awaiting the man who took the job but this was an offer Wilder simply couldn’t refuse.

In the beginning, it looked like Wilder had made a mistake as he failed to win in his first five matches in charge.

Wilder finally broke his duck in August 2016 with a 2-1 win at home to Oxford United. You couldn’t write it!

Now things were starting to fall into place and the Blades ended up winning League One with a brilliant haul of 100 points.

Speaking about their promotion to the second tier, Wilder told talkSPORT: “We had to reconnect with the supporters and find a style that was suited to the division.”

“We wanted to carry that into the Championship. We never changed our approach.

“We gave ourselves an opportunity to win every game of football by the character and the attitude of the players.

“The journey started with the likes of [Chris] Basham, [John] Fleck, Enda Stevens, Jacko [Jack O’Connell], and Billy Sharp.”

So can Wilder keep Sheffield United up this season?

Ryan Clarke, who Wilder managed at Oxford and Northampton thinks they can and the best of the boss will come out when things aren’t going so well.

Wilder has got his players well drilled for the Premier League
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Speaking to talkSPORT.com, Clarke said: “One of his favourite sayings was ‘if you lose one or two, you certainly don’t lose three’.

“It’ll be a tough ask but yeah I think he can. If there’s one thing he can do it’s when things aren’t going well it’s getting his team back on track.

“That’s another thing he’s very good at. That might be crucial because it’s going to be a hell of a tough season for them.

“I’ve not been in and around the changing rooms [at Sheffield United] but you can imagine the sorts of things that are going on and I’m sure he’s gone about his business in a similar way to what he’s done in the past because it’s worked well.”

Saturday is GameDay on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 as we become your go to destination for all the Premier League action.

We’ll bring you LIVE commentary of Premier League games across all three time slots on Saturday – 12.30pm, 3pm and 5.30pm – delivering award-winning coverage to more GameDay listeners than ever.

Chris Wilder says Sheffield United’s Premier League return ‘shows what you can achieve without chequebook mentality’

3 May

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has told talkSPORT the club have proven you don’t need to splash the clash to reach the Premier League.

The boss also revealed how Eddie Howe and Bournemouth inspired the Blades to achieve their dream of returning to the top flight.

Chris Wilder is much loved by Sheffield United fans and his players

Wilder joined talkSPORT host Jim White on Friday to reflect on a historic week for United.

The Bramall Lane club’s promotion was confirmed last weekend when rivals Aston Villa and Leeds could only draw in a controversial game at Elland Road.

It caps a remarkable rise under Sheffield-born Wilder, who has taken his boyhood club from League One to the Premier League in just three seasons.

Sheffield United were dubbed ‘The new Crazy Gang’ by former player Kevin Gage after this video of their promotion celebrations went viral online

And they could still beat Norwich to the Championship title, which would put the cherry on what has been an outstanding season from Wilder’s team.

And the gaffer believes beating big-spending Villa and Leeds to promotion shows what you can achieve with ‘old fashioned’ management.

“It’s amazing for everybody connected to the football club,” Wilder told talkSPORT on Friday.

“Where it was three years ago and to turn it around in the time we’ve done it, it’s remarkable. Everybody at the club – staff, players and supporters – I’m delighted for them.

“It just shows what can be achieved through hard work, good recruitment, work on the training ground, togetherness and team spirit – the old fashioned stuff that was about a few years ago but has been overtaken by a cheque book mentality.”

Eddie Howe (Bournemouth) has the fewest points-per-game won against Manchester City - 0.00
Eddie Howe and Bournemouth have been a huge source of inspiration for Wilder

Wilder is proud to join a number of fellow British managers in the Premier League next season, and revealed how Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe helped the Blues achieve their dream.

He added: “I’m ambitious and have always wanted to work at the highest possible standard that I could.

“I’m following people who I have enormous amount of respect for, Chris Hughton, Sean Dyche and Eddie Howe.

“Eddie, especially. We caught up with Bournemouth in pre-season two years ago and five or six of the boys who were playing in League One for them went onto play in the Premier League.

“We talked to our players and just said, ‘it can happen’. They were leading lights to give ourselves some inspiration in getting there.”

Sheffield United fans have been treated to some great football this season

Wilder also sent a personal message to fans, telling the Bramall Lane faithful to ‘enjoy the ride’ of Premier League.

“We’ve given them a team they are proud to get behind,” said the boss.

“We’ve had a tough few years and this is not a glamour club, you have to stick by it through thick and thin, and hopefully this is a new beginning of success at the club.

“We know what we’re going into and we know how hard it’s going to be, and we’ll need their support more than ever.

“But enjoy the ride, and enjoy the summer being a Premier League club.”

Chris Wilder reveals the secret behind Sheffield United’s remarkable journey from League One to the Premier League

29 Apr

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is a throwback.

He stands in opposition to many of the things we associate, and perhaps dislike, about modern football.

The 51-year-old has taken his boyhood club from the foot of League One to the Premier League in less than three years – and he’s done it the old fashioned way.

“It’s not just about chucking a load of dough at it and signing players,” he told talkSPORT.

Wilder has orchestrated Sheffield United’s return to the Premier League

“It’s about knitting a team together, organisation, team spirit, work ethic and tactically playing in a way that suits you to gain results.”

The Blades are not one of the Championship’s financial powerhouses – and Wilder also comes from humble beginnings.

After starting out at non-league Alfreton Town in 2001, he landed his dream job at Bramall Lane following spells at Halifax Town, Oxford United and Northampton Town.

Entering the Premier League, dominated by foreign managers, the Englishman believes he has proved an important point.

“I’ve struck a blow for the honest, hard-working man that can drive himself to the top of the table. I used to coach my pals on a Sunday morning when I got up on time,” he added.

“There’s a lot said about foreign coaches but hopefully I’ve given a ray of light to English coaches that can do it. I know there are a lot of coaches out there that can do it.”

Sharp has scored 23 goals in the Championship this season

Wilder is overwhelmed with pride, not only with guiding his team to the Premier League, but also with the way he’s done it.

The Blades still have the same spine of players they had in League One, with club captain Billy Sharp leading their climb up the Football League.

“To put ourselves back on the map is absolutely incredible and I’m proud to be involved in it,” Wilder continued.

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“We had a struggle to get out of the division [League One] for a few years. We had to reconnect with the supporters and find a style that was suited to the division.

“We wanted to carry that into the Championship. We never changed our approach. We gave ourselves an opportunity to win every game of football by the character and the attitude of the players.

“The journey started with the likes of [Chris] Basham, [John] Fleck, Enda Stevens, Jacko [Jack O’Connell], and Billy Sharp. Five or six of the team that will be playing in the Premier League next year started the journey off in League One.”

The Blades beat Ipswich 2-0 on Saturday

Wilder knows an unimaginable challenge faces his side next year – but he is relishing the prospect.

“I went to Man United vs Man City on Wednesday,” Wilder said. “The feeling of walking through the tunnel at Old Trafford and there’s 73,000 people there. I thought, ‘I’ll have a little bit of this with our players.'”

However, he jokes that he may need to change his pre-match approach.

“Every opposition, we go through their team and put weaknesses and strengths. Now I’m thinking I can’t do that next year!”

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder hits out at Leeds and Patrick Bamford, branding them ‘muppets’ after securing promotion

29 Apr

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has blasted promotion rivals Leeds United, calling them ‘muppets’ while hailing his side following their return to the Premier League.

Wilder’s side beat Ipswich 2-0 on Saturday at Bramall Lane to secure promotion back to the top-flight for the first time since 2007, while Leeds drew 1-1 with Aston Villa at home the next day.

Chris Wilder branded rivals Leeds ‘muppets’

It ended Leeds’ chances of automatic promotion, becoming the first team in a decade to top the Championship on Christamas Day and not go up automatically.

“We’ve had one defeat in 13 and I’ve got muppets from Leeds talking about the pressure being on us,” Wilder told the Blades official YouTube channel, as his players popped the champagne to celebrate their achievement.

“[Patrick] Bamford and [Adam] Forshaw and a couple of others saying ‘it’s over to you’ and this, that and the other.

“They got beat seven times since Christmas. We’ve been beaten once. We’ve set it up from Christmas to be in the race and we’ve steamrolled it.

“After the international break, two points a game. That’s promotion form right the way through in the pressure part of the season.

“Listen, don’t mention anything about bottle and b******s or about us dipping out.”

Wilder, 51, a Sheffield United fan, took charge of the club in June 2016 has led the club to two promotions in three years, including winning League One with a 100 points in his first season.

The Blades could still finish as champions if they beat Stoke next weekend and leaders Norwich lose at Villa.

However, they had other things on their mind with Wilder and prolific striker Billy Sharp at the centre of the boozy sing-a-longs.

Wilder did, though, take another shot at Bamford after watching the striker got Anwar El Ghazi red carded at Elland Road in chaotic scenes that saw Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa order his players to allow Aston Villa to score a goal.

“Full respect for Marcelo Bielsa today. Not full respect to Patrick Bamford,” the Blades boss added.

Bamford is likely to be banned for his antics, with Alan Shearer calling the player a disgrace, while El Ghazi is expected to have his card rescinded.