Prince Abdullah sprang a surprise on everyone today as he gave a detailed 30 minute interview to Sky Sports regarding the depature of Chris Wilder.
With the Blades owner under pressure from fans following Wilder’s departure, Abdullah took the chance during the international break to have his own say on matters. And to say he made some bold claims would be one of the understatements of the year.
So, for those who haven’t got the 30 minutes to dedicate to listening to Abdullah, we’ve broken it down into five key points which will no doubt prompt plenty of discussion among the Blades fanbase.
The recurring theme of this interview from Prince Abdullah was his clear issue with the way Wilder had pressed ahead with recruitment and new players.
Abdullah used the term ‘it can’t be your way or the highway all of the time’ when referencing Wilder’s strategy. He suggested the Blades boss came to him without an open mind, and that Wilder was almost tunnel visioned in the players he did want.
The Prince cited the purchases of Ramsdale and Brewster as two examples – though he did back them to be good signings for the club – and insisted Wilder needed to be more flexible.
Of all the hear-say to come out of the club in recent weeks, recruitment seemed to be the divisive factor. Abdullah’s comments here, suggest most people were spot in with that assumption.
Do we actually pay Premier League wages?
The Prince has hinted at this before when he’s come under fire for not sanctioning purchases for players who might command big wages.
But in his interview today, once again, Abdullah said that the club is more than competitive. He seemed surprised as mentions of the 20-30k-a-week mark, and insisted that some players are in the 40-50k bracket.
Those figures still put us near the bottom of the Premier League wage pile but they are higher than suggested. Of course, we won’t ever actually know the wages paid but the owner seemed adamant we’re being competitive.
Chris Wilder had already had enough it seems
The Prince didn’t take a dig at Wilder here as such, simply admitting that Wilder had twice offered to resign. Once in December, and then secondly following the Crystal Palace defeat.
Again, this was something widely known among the fanbase and it’s clear somebody, somewhere, is leaking some sort of information out from the club.
Abdullah tried to fight his own corner on this one. Once again, he referenced his personal trip over from Saudi Arabia to back Wilder in person. But as he continued on, he did start to reveal he’d become a bit disillusioned with Wilder’s attitude, and had begun to question whether the Blades boss was indeed the right man.
That, naturally, led to Abdullah apparently withdrawing January backing for Wilder. The Prince suggesting he couldn’t afford to back Wilder if he couldn’t trust the manager would still be about at the end of January.
Wilder’s contract details
This is the sort of stuff you never heard but Prince Abdullah – probably wrongly in all honesty – disclosed some pretty sensitive information.
Abdullah revealed Wilder was the highest paid member of staff at the club, above every player and that he’d also had a £15m release clause written into his new contract to stave off other clubs.
Secondly, he also revealed Wilder had apparently asked for £4m to resign. This clearly riled the Prince, who was visibly agitated at the suggestion the club should pay Wilder so handsomely when it was he who wanted out.
Thirdly, he then alluded that was around a years salary for Wilder, essentially revealing the United manager’s weekly wage. A quick working out there suggests Wilder was on over £70k-a-week with United.
How true that is, we’ll probably never know, but it’s a massive figure and one which will have surprised a number of fans.
Plans going forward
As expected, Abdullah tried to reassure fans and paint a good picture of himself to the public. He once again insisted players won’t be sold on the cheap if they are, and said any funds which do come in will contribute to buying new players.
He spoke once again about his actions speaking louder than words, citing his willingness to put money in and once again mentioning the £120m net spend he seems very proud of.
As he has put it himself, though, the proof will be in the pudding and his actions will need to speak louder than words. Abdullah admitted some players have relegation release clauses that clubs can meet if they wish.
That suggests we’re in for a bit of an overhaul this summer, with Abdullah mentioning right at the start of his interview how changing coach meant ‘overhauling the roster’ as he put it.
Time will tell, but Prince Abdullah faces a huge few months in charge of Sheffield United.