He won’t get the sack, but Chris Wilder says he’ll walk from his position as Sheffield United manager if he thinks it’s the right thing to do.
The Blades lost yet again on Tuesday night, this time to fellow Premier League strugglers Burnley.
They have made the worst start in English top flight history and despite another defeat by a single goal, don’t look any closer to that first win.
But Wilder has received constant backing from the hierarchy at Bramall Lane. Both owner Prince Abdullah and chairman Musaad bin Khalid Al Saud have publicly supported the United boss and said they will stick by him whatever happens this season.
This isn’t a dreaded vote of confidence, either. They appreciate and respect what Wilder has achieved, getting the club promoted twice and finishing ninth in the Premier League during his first four years in charge.
Yet form hasn’t just dipped since then, it’s fallen off the edge of a cliff.
Chris Wilder won’t get the sack – but could leave
Wilder looked and sounded demoralised in his post-match interviews at Turf Moor.
Once again, his side weren’t utterly outclassed in defeat. But neither did they put up much of a fight as they drifted to yet another loss.
A few weeks ago, before the 1-1 draw at Brighton and Hove Albion, Wilder admitted he would walk if he thought it was the right thing to do.
“I’d only do that if I thought it was the right thing for Sheffield United,” the 53-year-old told Sky Sports. “That’s the only time I would do that.
“The club means far too much for me for it to be about me. It’s about what happens for the club.
“Whether people above me are giving me their support, or the decisions or whatever, I understand and respect that. I’m working away.
“I talk with the owner and we’re not happy with the results, of course. He isn’t and I’m certainly not.”
What happens if Wilder walks?
If Wilder were to leave, the question for the Blades would then be – who next?
Who could they bring in to fill the shoes of arguably the greatest manager in their history?
Do they opt for a short-term fix to try and avoid relegation? Or appoint someone, like Wilder, they see being in charge for years to come?
The problem is – and the owner recognises this – the best man for the job is already in it.
However, under his guidance the club is meandering towards the drop and the lowest points total in Premier League history.
What long-term effects could that have on the squad in terms of confidence or morale? Could they stop respecting Wilder and his ideas? Has that happened already?
Relegation almost feels inevitable now. But the hope is United at least put up a fight to suggest that, under Wilder, they could bounce back from the Championship soon.
Otherwise, an extremely difficult decision that most Blades fans would never want to see would have to be made.