A little over a year ago Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder was strongly linked with Sunderland.

As the Sunderland Echo reports, Wilder had grown frustrated with the ongoing ownership dispute at Bramall Lane. A dispute that has only just been resolved in the High Court.

Following the sacking of Chris Coleman as Black Cats boss, Wilder was one of the favourites to succeed the Welshman. When asked if he would take charge at the Stadium of Light, the 51-year-old responded: “I don’t know what lies ahead.”

At the time Stewart Donald was in the process of becoming the new Sunderland owner. Donald and Wilder’s relationship dates back to when they were both involved at Oxford United as sponsor and manager respectively.

Chris Wilder came close to joining Sunderland

(Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

As the Blades prepare to face the Wearside club in the fourth round of the Carabao Cup, it seems unfathomable that Wilder came so close to leaving South Yorkshire.

United are on the back of beating Everton 2-0 away in the Premier League. It’s a result that leaves them tenth in the table after six matches.

Wilder is a hero in the red half of Sheffield. The former boyhood fan and player who has returned as boss to lead his team from the third tier to the top flight after a 12-year absence.

The Black Cats, meanwhile, drew 1-1 at bottom-placed Bolton Wanderers in League One last time out.

Yet less than 18 months ago Wilder had grown so frustrated with the off-field issues with Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah he almost walked.

At the time the Blades had just missed out on the Championship playoffs. They would finish second and achieve automatic promotion the following season – but would that have happened if Wilder had left?

No one will ever know, but logic suggests it’s doubtful. As for Sunderland, under Wilder would they currently be bouncing back up the divisions as United did? Rather than trailing the top two by three points.

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