Chris Wilder has admitted that telling the likes of Stefan Scougall and Matt Done they are surplus to requirements was among the toughest moments of his managerial career.
Less than a week after officially being crowned League One champions, Sheffield United confirmed the duo were among five players whose services were no longer required at Bramall Lane.
Wilder, who began the process of strengthening his squad by signing Ched Evans on Monday, insisted the announcement underlined the bravery of the club’s coaching staff but admitted this summer’s cull felt very different to some of those he has performed in the past.
“If you speak to Knilly (Alan Knill), Lee Butler, Wayne Jacobs or Mickey Lewis, people I work or have worked closely with, I’ve sometimes quite liked that part,” he said. “Seriously, these last two years have been an exception because the players I’ve had have been outstanding.”
Wilder secured his second promotion in as many seasons after leading United to the title, having steered Northampton Town out of League Two before returning to South Yorkshire 12 months ago.
The 49-year-old, a former United player, appeared destined to award Scougall a new contract earlier this term but the arrival of Jay O’Shea on loan from Chesterfield prompted a change of heart. Marc McNulty is also set to become a free agent next month while Done has been placed on the transfer list alongside James Wilson and Chris Hussey.
“The game is ruthless,” Wilder said. “People would be ruthless with me. You like to think it’s fair but the game moves on. We’ll always be brave enough to take the big decisions though.”