He spent the evening singing songs, supping Coronas and larking around with his players on an open top bus.
But, even though Chris Wilder clearly enjoys their company, a directive issued before Tuesday’s civic reception reminded Sheffield United’s League One title-winners he is still their manager rather than mate.
“You’re in or you’re out,” Wilder said. “Be it on the front of the open top bus or not.
“About a month ago, we had a couple of ‘do’s’ and there were a few murmurs about ‘I can’t really be doing this.’ So I told them, if you can’t do it, then fine. But you’re out. And that’s with regards to playing games too.
“Be it Player of the Year do’s or visits to a local school, we all do it together. You either put everything in or you don’t. That’s the way I’ve always run things; you are either all in or not.”
Wilder’s edict, issued after promotion was secured with four games to spare, reveals much about the methods which have helped United regain their Championship status and, 48 hours ago, sparked madcap scenes outside the city’s Town Hall. The former Northampton Town and Oxford chief wants his squad to be friends as well as colleagues. So, when they party, they party with a point.
“There’s a real team spirit here,” Wilder, whose side finished 14 points ahead of second-place, said. “It’s not about me, it’s not about the captain (Billy Sharp), Couttsy (Paul Coutts) or anyone else in the team. It’s about the group as a whole, the club as a whole and includes all the staff, no matter what their job, behind the scenes.
“This place is always at it’s most powerful when it’s together and that’s what I think it is now. On the pitch at least, you only get that by all buying-in, whether that’s for good or for bad. You can’t start picking and choosing what you want to do, when you want to do it or when it suits.”
Wilder’s combination of modern scientific thinking and unashamedly old school methods have transformed United since his appointment in May. Despite acknowledging the Championship will be a tough assignment, the 49-year-old is not about to change an approach which also delivered the League Two title to Sixfields two seasons ago.
“That’s the way I’ve always worked,” he said. “Obviously you make a few little tweaks here and there along the way but, by and large, it’s not going to change.
“These lads have given me everything this season, they’ve given 100 per cent and even more if that’s possible to the club. So they deserve to enjoy themselves and it’s important to enjoy themselves.
“No matter how many games they’ve played, every individual has dug-in and given everything they’ve got.”