Chris Wilder's Stock At All-Time Low After Middlesbrough Sacking

When the stock is low, it is time to buy...
15:00, 03 Oct 2022

In the late summer of 2020, Chris Wilder was on top of the world. His side had returned from the unforeseen pandemic break to secure a ninth place finish in the Premier League. Although they lost their last three, it was seen as a hugely successful season as the gaffer shocked the top flight and managed to outperform all expectations with a relatively limited squad. 

His stock had never been higher. Fast forward two years, and it’s never been lower. His sacking from Middlesbrough brings a swift end to what has been a miserable season so far. He leaves them stuck in the Championship relegation zone after a summer of discontent, but it raises questions on where Wilder goes next?

He is now unlikely to get a Premier League job, and instead will have to do another rebuild with a Championship club. Clearly, with a CV that has seen him win promotion with Northampton and Oxford, and take Sheffield United from League One to the top half of the Premier League, he shouldn’t be short of offers, but that CV has been tarnished over the past couple of years. 


Having finished ninth with Sheffield United in the Covid-19 affected season, it’s easy to forget just how bad the Blades were the following year. They got two points from their opening 17 matches and were in genuine contention to break Derby County’s record of 11 Premier League points. They ended up on 23 having lost 29 of their 38 league matches, but nine of those points came after Wilder had been sacked and once relegation was a formality.

Wilder left having won four, and drawn two of 28 league matches that term. It was a disastrous ending to the fairy tale journey. Yet when Middlesbrough managed to convince him to pick them last term in November 2021 as they sat 14th, it was seen as a major coup for the north-east side. 

Steve Gibson was thrilled to have him on board and things seemed to be looking up as Boro rallied to finish just outside the play-offs. But this summer the relationship became strained, as the transfer window left the club short on the pitch. When Boro sold both James Tavernier and Djed Spence for a combined figure of £25m, onlookers believed that money would be invested back into the squad for a promotion push. 

But it simply hasn’t materialised like that. The Spence sale was delayed and Tavernier left late in the window, giving Boro little time to manoeuvre. However, given they did spend a total of £8m on Marcus Forss from Brentford, Matt Clarke from Brighton and Matthew Hoppe from Mallorca, much more was expected from Wilder and this squad. 

What we have seen on the pitch this season has been a reflection of the disjointed ongoings behind the scenes at the Riverside. It looked like owner Steve Gibson would go big this summer given the major sales, but instead differences of opinion regarding recruitment led to a mismatch of inexperienced players, even if some of the signings looked perfect on paper.

Two wins from eleven and several comments of discontent from Wilder was enough to see Gibson pull the trigger, but he doesn’t escape from this debacle without some level of criticism. To have a manager like Wilder at your club and have to sack him after less than a year in charge proves that something, somewhere, has gone drastically wrong. 

Wilder is now at a crossroads. This is a manager who has achieved a win rate of above 40% at each of his last four jobs, with only his spell at Boro falling beneath the 45% mark. That’s no fluke, and he is unlikely to be short of second tier suitors, but the last two seasons will cause some concern.

His next role needs to be Sheffield United-esque. He needs full control, and several years in charge to start to work his magic. If a club can provide that and tempt Wilder in, they could be in for something truly special. When stocks are low, it is the time to buy, but then again, that’s exactly what Middlesbrough thought…

*18+ | BeGambleAware

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