Neil Humphreys: This United's doing great
Wilder's Sheffield United shine while rich clubs whine
Chris Wilder never said a word.
Jose Mourinho was busy getting his excuses in early. Tottenham Hotspur had failed to sign a replacement for injured striker Harry Kane and now his hands were tied.
But Wilder never said a word.
Frank Lampard expressed his disappointment at Chelsea's inability to bring in any attacking reinforcements, calling the Blues "underdogs".
But Wilder never said a word.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lamented the difficulty of signing quality strikers in the January transfer window. Manchester United eventually settled for 30-year-old Odion Ighalo, brought in on loan from China's Shanghai Shenhua.
And still, Wilder never said a word.
As a result, little has been said of Wilder or his minor miracle in steering Sheffield United to fifth position in the English Premier League, although Spurs can overtake them if they beat Manchester City this morning (Singapore time).
If his comparative silence embarrasses his loftier rivals, then his staggering progress shames them.
As managers with superior resources hand the broken record around in that post-transfer window game of Pass the Buck, they pull focus from Wilder's achievements.
Whether it is Mourinho, Lampard or Solskjaer, the eternal bleating of the elite manager warrants less empathy than the President of the United States complaining about room service at a Trump hotel.
The Blades are tearing their credibility to shreds.
United's panic-stricken signing of Ighalo is not a reflection of a low-value transfer market, but an indictment of the club's erratic planning.
With less fanfare, Wilder bought midfielder Sander Berge for a club record £22 million (S$39.6m) on Thursday and gave him a Sheffield United debut on Saturday. Berge pressed well and helped to nullify the threat of Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha.
The Blades won and moved up to fifth in the table. Remember, they were promoted to the EPL this season and Berge is just 21 years old.
Those facts are neither random nor unrelated.
Wilder took charge of his boyhood club in May 2016 - when they were in League One. He developed a dependable core of players that he topped up regularly with youthful potential.
He also instilled a regimented tactical plan still in evidence against Palace. In four years of sustained success, Wilder has not deviated from his vision.
At Old Trafford, Solskjaer gives the impression that he checks with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward before choosing his socks in the morning.
But Wilder flourishes in the shadows, leaving us to obsess over the elite clubs' soap operas.
Has Paul Pogba played his last game for United? Will Kane return this season? Will we ever see Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich again?
Endless questions fill the big top of circus freaks masquerading as contenders while Wilder's warriors sneak off with one stubborn victory after another.
United's latest distraction - Bruno Fernandes - drew attention away from Solskjaer's inability to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers with a squad that cost over half a billion.
Meanwhile, the other United saw off Palace with four players from League One.
Midfielder John Fleck, forward Billy Sharp and central defenders Jack O'Connell and Chris Basham were regulars when the Blades lifted the League One title in 2017. And they kept going.
Through promotion from the Championship in 2019 to fifth in the EPL standings, Wilder's established core are unbending in their collective belief in their manager's long-term project.
Wilder doesn't tolerate egos. He prefers a tight-knit bunch.
Before January, he had started just 16 players. Their roles are committed to memory through endless drilling.
Against Palace, the Blades prevailed with a familiar 3-5-2.
With John Egan the fixed point in the defensive trio, O'Connell and Basham are instructed to make long, diagonal runs to support - or even overtake - their wing-backs.
New signings are not panic buys, but carefully targeted round pegs for round holes. Berge had been identified and monitored since pre-season.
Similarly, Dutch forward Richairo Zivkovic, 23, and Greek defender Panagiotis Retsos, 21, are young loan signings, with the possibility of long-term contracts if they fit Wilder's system. He revels in pulling off shrewd deals.
He certainly has no intention of following Fulham. The Londoners spent around £100 million after securing promotion in 2018 and went down anyway.
Wilder has balanced the books and his squad and hoisted the Blades into fifth position. It may not last.
But the Blades are demonstrating greater form and durability than the wheezing, whining big boys around them, offering a timely reminder of what a man with a plan can achieve.
In that respect, Wilder doesn't need to say much. His Blades speak for him.