It’s been nearly four years now since Chris Wilder took over the reins of boyhood club, Sheffield United.
In that time, even the most optimistic of Blades fans couldn’t have seen what was to come during Wilder’s tenure.
Two promotions, a memorable 4-2 win over Sheffield Wednesday, and a stunning return to the Premier League are just a few of the fine moments the club has enjoyed under Wilder.
It has, then, been quite the turnaround for the Blades. Gone are the days of United languishing in League One. Gone are the end of season games where the only fans staying behind were the ones who took issue with the club’s performances.
Part of the reason why the club has been so successful has been the signings the 52-year-old has made. While not all have worked out or flourished at Bramall Lane, a fair amount of players signed by Wilder has indeed performed above and beyond expectation.
With that in mind, then, we took a look at the FIVE best signings of the Chris Wilder era.
5. Leon Clarke
In terms of underwhelming signings at the time, Leon Clarke is right up there. Wilder signed the journeyman and former Sheffield Wednesday man after Clarke hit a purple patch with Bury.
It proved an inspired move from the Blades boss. Clarke scored seven goals in his first season, including a vital equaliser on the final day as the Blades won promotion at Northampton.
A stunning Championship campaign followed with 19 goals before Clarke eventually fell down the pecking order. However, he remains a top signing by Wilder and one who is still part of the squad now.
4. Mark Duffy
Although Duffy left the club on bad terms this season, there is little denying the impact the scouser had on proceedings at Bramall Lane.
He was instrumental as United switched to a 3-5-2 formation. Playing in the number ten role, Duffy allowed United an added outlet in attacking areas.
Crucially, he scored a stunning goal at Hillsborough to cement himself as a Blades legend forever. Furthermore, Duffy cost the club absolutely nothing!
3. Enda Stevens
Another free transfer and a player who has simply gone from strength to strength in the red and white of Sheffield United.
Stevens made an unspectacular start but has since become one of the finest left wing-backs in the country. Having signed a new deal this past week, Blades fans will be hoping they haven’t quite seen the best of the Irishman just yet.
2. Jack O’Connell
Carrying on the theme of signings Wilder made in his first season in charge, Jack O’Connell has surprised everyone with his progress at Bramall Lane.
After being deemed not good enough for Brentford, O’Connell is now respected as one of the most consistent performers in a Blades shirt.
He’s mastered the overlapping centre-back role Wilder deploys him in and could well earn an England call-up in the coming months.
1. John Fleck
There’ll be little argument amongst most Blades fans when it comes to the number one selection here. John Fleck has been nothing short of sensational ever since joining the club.
Regarded as someone with all the attributes but also as someone who might not fulfil his potential, Wilder snapped Fleck up in the same summer as most of the aforementioned entries.
On a free transfer again, Fleck has proved an inspired piece of business. Another who has recently signed a new deal with the club, some fans even regard Fleck as the finest midfielder of all time at the club.
The little Scot has got better and better this season. And to think there was once an argument as to who was better, Fleck, or Barry Bannan. There’s little doubt now.
Fleck has proven himself to be one of the all-time best signings for Sheffield United.