CHRIS MORGAN is on a seven-man shortlist to become Sheffield United’s next permanent manager, new chief executive Julian Winter has revealed.
The Blades, preparing for a third year in League One following Monday’s play-off semi-final defeat to Yeovil Town, are looking for a successor to Danny Wilson following his sacking with five games of the regular season remaining.
Winter, back at Bramall Lane as part of a board restructuring, is leading that search and he expects the interview process to get under way quickly after whittling down 20 “quality” applicants to the current shortlist.
Among those believed to be interested in the Bramall Lane vacancy are Russell Slade, Keith Curle, and Graham Arnold, currently coach of Australian club Central Coast Mariners.
Oxford United manager Chris Wilder, a former player with the Blades, has also been strongly linked in recent days, while Morgan made it clear in the wake of this week’s play-off exit at Yeovil that he wants the job.
Whoever gets the nod faces a tough task with Winter admitting yesterday that the failure to win promotion this time around means United’s wage bill will have to be cut ahead of next season. The returning chief executive is also unable to give fans any assurances as to whether the Blades will be able to keep hold of prize assets such as Harry Maguire and George Long.
On the search for Wilson’s permanent successor, Winter said: “We had a significant volume (of interest). In terms of quality applications, we had around 20. We shortlisted lower than that because a number of those quality candidates didn’t fit the profile we are looking for.
“The shortlist has seven names on it. I can’t comment on any of those names, other than to confirm Chris (Morgan) applied and wants the job.
“Chris stepped into the breach at a difficult moment. Everyone has been very open with Chris. He knows we are interviewing other candidates.”
Winter, who left last September after a year at the Lane, has returned to join Scott McCabe and chairman David Green on a new three-man board of directors that will be responsible for the day-to-day running of the football club.
As part of the re-structuring, retiring board members Chris Steer, Mike Blundell and Ian Cameron have become vice-presidents of the club.
Winter said: “I will be on the interview panel with two others. It is very difficult to put a timescale on that. It may be a one-stage process or it may be a two-stage process, which obviously delays things.
“It is fairly fluid, but we are on with it. We did quite a bit of work in preparing a managerial profile and a detailed job description about what the job entails and what is expected of that individual. We have shortlisted on the back of that profile.”
Asked to expand on what managerial profile United are working towards, Winter replied: “We need a player developer, someone who improves players. You need a manager who can embrace all aspects of the football side and bring them together to make something happen.
“We need a manager and support team that will embrace our own young players.
“We will be recruiting certain types of footballers. There is a wage model that will be applied, and that means you fish in a certain pond. We don’t want to waste time fishing in a pond that we can’t afford.
“You have to have the right age bracket of players. They also have to be hungry, athletic.
“We want a manager with a clear philosophy of how he is going to play. And how he would fit players into that. We need to develop players who can play in League One, but also the Championship.”
United are on course to make another financial loss this season and the failure to win promotion means there will be consequences.
Winter added: “The playing budget (next season) will naturally be less. I have only been in the building a very short period of time so can’t give a number. But it will be less than this year.
“We have been the biggest budget (in League One) and the second-biggest budget for the last two years. And we haven’t got promoted.
“The financial state of Sheffield United is not at a stable level. The McCabe family, as we know, have continued to support the club over a long number of years. Over the previous two years to this one, that was £13m plus of losses. That can’t continue.”
On the likelihood of United keeping hold of talent such as Maguire, Winter added: “I can’t guarantee anything. Every player will ultimately find his place. If there is serious interest in any of our players from a higher level then the club will be in a position where we have to consider that.
“Not only for ourselves but also for the future career of footballers.
“The young players that we have, we want to keep them. But, ultimately, when pressed into a corner and you have to make a decision, you can’t guarantee anything.”
New-look Blades boardroom...
Football club board
Julian Winter (chief executive)
David Green (chairman)
Chris Steer, Mike Blundell, Ian Cameron, Andrew Laver, Martin Ross.