Hard-working, rugged and ready to sacrifice himself for the cause, Jake Wright is exactly the type of player Chris Wilder wants at Bramall Lane.
So, when the centre-half parted company with Oxford earlier this summer, few eyebrows were raised when Sheffield United’s manager immediately offered him a route back into the game.
Wright has rewarded Wilder’s faith with a series of accomplished displays since making his debut against their former club two months ago.
And, speaking earlier this week, Wilder cited the 30-year-old as a perfect example of why, in the transfer market, it is important to prioritse substance over style.
“Jake brings a calmness to the team,” Wilder said. “He’s one of those players I enjoy watching because he wants to win. In training and in games.
“He’s never played at this level and, with respect, he views this as an opportunity to do something at the back end of his career. I love players like that. People who get the maximum out of their careers. It’s not been a glittering career with medals littered all over the place. But every manager he’s had will tell you what Jake is like.”
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Wilder knows exactly what Wright is like having previously worked with him at Halifax Town and the Kassam Stadium. Both those spells included promotions and, after cementing his place in United’s starting eleven, the defender is emerging as a central figure in Wilder’s attempt to achieve a third.
Although he would probably flinch at the description, Wright is also the poster boy for the new recruitment strategy United devised following Wilder’s appointment in May. While many of his predecessors focused on attracting players from Championship clubs, the former United defender prefers to cherry-pick the best from leagues One and Two instead. A less exciting but, Wilder believes, more prudent and effective approach.
“Jake is a prime example,” he said. “We weren’t defending well enough and were making mistakes. Jake worked hard, he kept his head down and got his opportunity.
“It’s all about the group. In training and in games, Jake was enthusiastic and encouraging to the players who were playing. Now I’m looking at those ones who aren’t in to do exactly the same thing he did then right now. Because we all want the same thing and are in this together.”