Sheffield United completed the transfer of Ismaila Coulibaly last summer without any involvement from Chris Wilder.
That’s according to Sky Sports, who report that Wilder was “sidelined from the process”.
Coulibaly was signed from Norwegian side Sarpsborg for £1.8m, before being immediately loaned to Beerschot for three years. The Belgian club, along with the Blades, are part of the United World Group started by owner Prince Abdullah.
If Coulibaly plays for three years in Belgium, he can then obtain an EU passport and therefore a work permit for the UK.
However, it seems Wilder was not included in the deal at all. This way of working eventually led to his exit as manager on Saturday.
How Coulibaly deal led to Wilder leaving Sheffield United
Since Wilder took charge at Bramall Lane in 2016, he quickly became involved in all aspects of the club. His “fingerprints everywhere”, it’s been described as.
Yet once Prince Abdullah was given sole control of United following a High Court battle with Kevin McCabe, it was made clear he wanted things to change.
In terms of recruitment, Wilder was being told to step back. The board wanted the 53-year-old to become more of a head coach than a manager and work under a technical director.
This, coupled with many of Wilder’s requests not being met, resulted in a breakdown of the relationship.
He grew frustrated with the delay in delivering a new training facility. He wanted the academy to be improved and achieve Category One status.
Wilder wanted Ross Barkley, Ollie Watkins and Callum Wilson last summer, but all of their wages were deemed too expensive.
Crucially, as results on the pitch faltered this season, he wanted backing in the January transfer window. No new signings arrived.
Ultimately, Wilder felt he could no longer do his job properly.
It didn’t seem like it at the time, but the signing of Coulibaly signalled a new approach from the club which Wilder could not support.
Many other factors led to his eventual departure, but that was the beginning of the end.