BOB BOOKER says Chris Wilder’s impressive start to Premier League management has not come as a shock.

Former Albion assistant manager Booker, pictured inset, and Sheffield United boss Wilder go way back.

Former Seagull Wilder was Booker’s landlord for a while during their time together at Sheffield United and the pair have remained firm friends.

Booker believes Wilder’s success now is rooted in the traits he has displayed throughout his career in management which has seen him work his way up from the likes of Alfreton in the Northern Counties East League, Halifax and Oxford in the Conference.

He took the U’s back into the Football League, made Northampton League Two champions and steered Blades to the League One crown and then the top-flight.

Booker believes that was an “apprenticeship” that has seen Wilder hone all the skills you need to be a successful boss at whatever level you are competing.

Former Blades skipper Booker said: “I know Chris well, I lived up there in his house with him, and I know his character. He has always been very passionate about his football.

“He used to go and watch Sunday morning football with the lads even when he was a pro. He hasn’t changed a lot.

“He has been down in the lower leagues. He has done what I would call his apprenticeship. He’s done Oxford, Northampton and before that Alfreton and Halifax.

“To be down there with those clubs, with no disrespect to them, it is tough.

“You haven’t got a budget for your playing staff, you haven’t got the facilities he is blessed with now but he has moved up that ladder from there.

“He’s had the same assistant manager for a few years now, which is a great combination with Alan Knill, and why shouldn’t he do what he has been good at in the lower leagues and take that through to now?

“He has kept his beliefs in the structure of what he does on the training pitch and taken it into the group of players that he has now.

“He won’t mind me saying this, but Sheffield United have not spent a lot of money in the modern day Premier League.

“He has got a team of lower league players, free transfers and players you wouldn’t really have recognised until they got in the Premier League.

“He has put them into a shape and structure and they are all doing the jobs they have been told to do with nobody really changing the system he wants to play.

“I think once you’ve got that, you are on to a winner.

“It doesn’t matter how much money you spend, if you can’t get the players to do what you want them to do, it isn’t going to work.”

Booker added: “It’s not a surprise to me he has come forward to this level.

“It’s rightly deserved. He has done it with a lot of hard work, without a lot of money, without many facilities, and even looking at Sheffield United now, they are still probably one of the lowest budgets in the Premier League.

“I am really proud of him and really pleased with what he is achieving.”