Chris Wilder twice wanted to resign as Sheffield United manager and demanded a £4million pay-off to do so, according to the club’s owner.
Wilder left his role as Blades boss by mutual consent on March 13 after almost five years at the club.
He was hugely successful in the first four of those, leading United to two promotions from League One to the Premier League.
He followed that up with a superb ninth-placed finish in the top flight last season.
This campaign has been a huge struggle, though, the Blades having been rooted to the bottom of the table on 14 points at the time of his departure.
Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Sa’ud – who took full control of the Blades in 2018 after five years as co-chairman – has claimed that, despite being “astonished” by Wilder’s financial demands, he did not want him to leave.
94 – Since he joined Sheffield United in May 2016, only Man City under Pep Guardiola (134) and Liverpool under Jürgen Klopp (117) have won more league games under a single manager in England’s top four tiers than the Blades under Chris Wilder (94). Sheathed. pic.twitter.com/qhehOTkCYg
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 12, 2021
“I told Chris, if we lose every game until the end of the season, we are not going to fire you,” he told Sky Sports News. “We need you to be our coach. I am not talking about emotion, I just believe you are the best manager to bring us back to the Premier League.
“I told him recruitment could be better and that we could sit down after the season and talk about how we could make it better.
“I told him that I am not happy that sometimes after defeats when you talk to the media [and say], ‘I can’t make cake out of sand’ and when he says, ‘all I have is Championship players’.
“It does not reflect well on the club image. Those players finished ninth in the table last season; it hurts the club financially.
“I am OK with Chris taking all the credit when we win, but at least take some responsibility when we lose. Don’t, under the pressure of some losses, say ‘everything around me is rubbish’.”
He added: “Chris explained in a one-hour call why he wanted to resign. He said that he felt the team needed a change, a new voice.
“We were very clear and said we don’t want to fire you but if you want to resign, you can, but we will not pay you the same money as if we were firing you.
“The emails started between his representatives and our financial guy and we were astonished to find he had asked for £4m to resign.
“We said, ‘no way are we going to pay you £4m, you are resigning, we are not firing you, why would we have to pay almost one year’s salary?’”
Former Under-23s manager Paul Heckingbottom has since replaced Wilder until the end of the season.
He has presided over two matches; a 5-0 Premier League defeat at Leicester City and a 2-0 FA Cup loss to Chelsea, the latter seeing the Blades produce a largely encouraging performance despite the scoreline.