Chris Wilder, has insisted he had no choice but to sell Che Adams when the former Sheffield United centre-forward asked to leave Bramall Lane.
Wilder outlined the reasons behind the youngster’s departure ahead of tomorrow’s meeting with Birmingham City, who signed him for a reported £2m fee 15 months ago.
Although United have prospered without Adams, winning the League One title last season and rising to third in the Championship this term, Wilder clearly felt the way the move was engineered meant he had relinquished his right to any favourable treatment when questioned on the subject yesterday.
“He wanted to go,” Wilder said. “It was the same with Dom (Calvert-Lewin) who went to Everton. I didn’t want people who didn’t want to be here. I was new in and I had to put a marker down.
“There was no big falling out. He’s an opposition player and he might get a little ripple at the start but, after that, he won’t be getting any favours from our players or I would hope our fans.”
Wilder had been in post less than 12 weeks before being informed Adams, aged 21, favoured a transfer to St Andrews. Contrasting the former England under-20 international’s actions with those of Mark Duffy, who joined United earlier that summer after being released by City, the United manager provided a fascinating insight into the commitment and loyalty he demands from his players.
“He worked okay for the short period he was here,” Wilder continued. “I suppose he’s looking at it thinking they were in that division and we were in League One. He’s got no affiliation to Sheffield United has he? It’s not like he’s been here since he was 10 and come all the way through the ranks.
“He’s a footballer who wanted it to happen, his agent wanted it to happen and they wanted to take him. He made that perfectly clear so we tried to do as much as we could without getting our pants pulled down.”
Adams, who spent less than two years in South Yorkshire after arriving from Ilkeston, wrote his name into United folklore after scoring twice during the second-leg of their 2015 EFL Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur. But Duffy has since emerged as the creative force behind a team which enters tomorrow’s game 18 places above City in the rankings.
“Duff has been outstanding and he wanted to be here,” Wilder said. “Because he signed on the dotted line.
“It was a little bit stop start for Duff in his Birmingham City career. He got himself back going (on loan) at Burton and he’s going from strength to strength with us.”
“He’s an intelligent footballer,” Wilder added. “When you speak to players and talk through games, he listens and he comes back with something. That doesn’t always happen, trust me. When we are talking about different aspects and trying to improve technical and tactical parts, he’s a listener and a learner. Duff is very studious about the game, someone who analyses it and likes talking about it.”