Sunderland owner Stewart Donald is using Sheffield United’s promotion model to get his club out of League One.
Donald spoke to Chris Wilder after his success of taking the Blades out of the third tier and now competing at the top of the Championship.
The duo know each other from their time working together at Oxford United.
“I’ve talked to some clubs about how they’re doing and one of the most logical people to talk to that I know is obviously Chris Wilder,” Donald told the Roker Report podcast.
“Chris has got a big club promoted from League One – not as big as Sunderland probably – he’s got them on the edge of the playoffs first year and now he’s got them top.
“I have a rough idea of what that’s cost and we have discussed that and said, ‘that’s a model’.”
After five years in League One, Wilder got United promoted in 2016/17 as title winners with 100 points.
In their first year back in the Championship they finished tenth having spent plenty of time in the top six. This time around they are currently one point off leaders Leeds United.
All of this has been done with a careful transfer structure implemented by Wilder. Often the 51-year-old uses his contacts in the lower leagues to find potential bargains.
Key figures like John Fleck and Mark Duffy arrived on free transfers, while the loan market is also carefully utilised. The improvement of preexisting players such as Paul Coutts and Billy Sharp is also credit to the manager.
Now Sunderland are looking to emulate what Wilder and his team have achieved in such a short space of time and Donald is sure to be keeping a close eye on United over the rest of this season.