Former Oxford United colleagues pay tribute to Wilder

Witney Gazette: Chris Wilder and Kelvin Thomas Chris Wilder and Kelvin Thomas

The manner of the exit last weekend meant Chris Wilder did not get to wave goodbye to United’s supporters, but there was no shortage of warmth from those who had worked with him.

Kelvin Thomas was chairman when Wilder was appointed in December 2008.

They went on to form a close working relationship which saw the club return to the Football League in 2010.

Thomas said: “I would like to wish Chris the very best of luck at Northampton.

“He was a great manager and person when I was chairman and worked incredibly hard.

“I will never forget the highs we experienced during that time and nobody can ever take away that win at Wembley from us, achieving promotion, plus of course, the wins over Swindon.

“And I also want to pass on my best wishes to Mickey (Lewis) as he takes over the role.

“You will never meet a nicer man in football and I hope it all works out for him.”

Lewis has filled the void to take over as caretaker-manager.

After serving as Wilder’s right-hand man for five years, he intends to keep close ties.

He said: “It’s a crazy world, football, but me and Chris will stay friends, I’m sure.

“The game moves on so quickly and it can all change.

“People who have been in the game for a long time have experienced that as a player and a member of staff.

“I spoke to him on Sunday night to wish him well and that (contact) will continue.”

Lewis’s biggest compliment to his former boss is he does not intend to make many changes to begin with.

“I think we’ll keep working to what we have been doing,” he said. “Chris was the manager, but we worked really closely together.

“We’re very similar in a lot of our thoughts, but obviously we had different opinions as well.

“We’re doing well in the league and you’d be daft to change too many things.”

Andy Whing summed up the mood among many players signed by Wilder.

He said: “I’m disappointed because he brought me in.

“I’ve played quite a lot of games under him, so on a personal note I was sad to see him go.

“It’s a new chapter for the club and it’s going to be a bit different because five years is a long time in football for a manager.”

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