Brutal honesty, for good or bad, is a basic tenet of Chris Wilder’s regime.
But, as Sheffield United’s title winning celebrations prepare to culminate with a trip to Nevada, it does not take Sherlock Holmes to detect a whiff of duplicity.
“It was nothing to do with me,” Wilder, asked if the squad’s decision to sing ‘Viva Las Vegas’ in front of the television cameras when top spot was confirmed, grinned. “Anything that happened with that, it didn’t have my fingerprints on it.
“I’m just doing a quiet time away and a bit of golf with my pals. They can’t mention it any more. Joking aside, I want them to enjoy it. I’ve always said, it’s not a holiday camp but it’s not a concentration camp either.”
That comment, about the importance of striking the right work/life balance, explains how Wilder has been able to transform the mood behind the scenes at Bramall Lane. Last season, even before the club limped towards an 11th placed finish, visitors to its Steelphalt Academy training complex were greeted by a sombre, almost funereal, atmosphere. But, since the 49-year-old’s appointment in May, players have been encouraged to work hard and, when circumstances allow, enjoy the fruits of their labour.
“We’re looking at next season,” Wilder, speaking after Sunday’s official coronation as League One champions, said. “When I’ve sobered up in four or five days anyway. We’ll give it a go. It’s a tough game, football. We’ve had to work incredibly hard to have a season like this. So be it the players, the staff or the fans, wherever they are boozing, be it down London Road or wherever, they should enjoy themselves.”