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Is Chris Wilder the best manager in the country?

Thursday 14th September 2017
Jose Mourinho? Pep Guardiola? Jurgen Klopp? Antonio Conte? No. The best coach in the country could be Sheffield United's Chris Wilder.

Few will have heard of Chris Wilder, for the dominant football discourse concentrates on the likes of the Premier League and Champions League. The EFL has suffered in the explosion of the Premier League TV rights deal and is rarely shown on national television, despite Sky Sports owning the rights.

Thus, apart from those fans who follow their club and respective leagues, the footballing audiences know little about the Championship and below: they simply aren't given the information, nor games. One would have to actively research the EFL, whereas one only has to be a passive watcher/reader to know a lot about Europe's top leagues.

The point of this very tangent is to emphasise why Chris Wilder will be a brand new name to most of the footballing community.
So, why might he be the best coach in the country?

Currently, his average points tally per season is 99.5 over the last two years. That is a simply staggering statistic.

Wilder took charge of Sheffield United when they were languishing in League One. He reinvigorated a side that was set for mediocrity. A testing and gruelling pre-season whipped the Blades into shape and they stormed to the League One title in Wilder's first season in charge.

Stormed to the title is perhaps an understatement; they dominated the league. Finishing on 100 points, netting 92 times and with just six losses, the Blades were well worth their champion status.

This season, the Championship was meant to present a difficult challenge. How would his team adapt? Question marks over his versatility arose; doubts lingered. Two losses greeted the start of the season, with such concerns festering.

Yet Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock, who oversaw his side's 2-0 victory over United, realised just how good the Blades were. He said at the time that Wilder's side will pick up points and that it is only a matter of time.

Well, Warnock was correct. Since losing at Cardiff, United have gone on to win four consecutive matches and now sit third in the table, just a point behind Warnock's side and two behind table-topping Leeds United.
It is clear that Wilder is a fantastic manager, one capable of great man-management as well as an eye for tactics. His United side is closely modelled on Warnock's Cardiff, too. Explosive on the counter attack with quick wingers and a poacher in the form of Billy Sharp - that United are in the top three is no coincidence.

Whilst it must be said that Wilder only has such a good points average because of last year's title romp and his side's great start to the season. And whilst it would be premature to say Wilder is the best in the country, it is clear he is one of the game's most promising managers.

By no means a spring chicken at 49, Wilder has had to graft his way to the United job and it is this tenacity and dedication that provides the platform for his current success.

You would not bet against the Blades securing a playoff place this season and with Wilder in charge, seemingly anything is possible. His current points average would see United surge to automatic promotion - then, we might start to entertain the idea that Chris Wilder is one of the best contemporary managers in the game, for he is certainly one of the best in the EFL.
Michael Jones

Football & political writer with a predictable love of everything retro. English Literature undergraduate at the University of Exeter, looking to pursue a career in sports journalism. For a collection of my work, visit. http://mikejonesmedia.wordpress.com

Follow me on twitter: @jonesmichael_97

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