Carver off to winning start as Sheffield United fans are asked for patience

SHEFFIELD United caretaker manager John Carver boosted his chances of landing the job on a permanent basis with a 1-0 home victory over high-flying Swansea City.

Carver, who joined the Blades as a coach three months ago, stepped into the spotlight following Gary Speed's decision to quit and become new manager of Wales.

Although Doncaster Rovers' manager Sean O'Driscoll is a serious front-runner, Carver has been told that no decisions have yet been made.

Speaking at the club's Annual General Meeting on Saturday morning, chief executive Trevor Birch also informed shareholders that a shortlist had still to be finalised.

Former Hull City manager Phil Brown, ex-Barnsley manager Paul Hart, and erstwhile Coventry City manager Chris Coleman are among the applicants for the post.

Carver said: "I am not getting carried away with my situation after winning one game. I have got a three-year contract and, whatever job the club asks me to do, within reason, I will do.

"The chief executive (Trevor Birch) and the chairman (Kevin McCabe) came into the dressing room, congratulating everyone after the game which was quite nice – but there have been no hints.

"The club is going through a process and there are a lot of good applicants out there, a lot of good people desperate to get back into the game.

"It helps when you win a football match and there is a little bit of breathing space – but I think they would still go ahead with the procedure whether we had won or lost. I don't think this result affects that in any way."

Carver revealed that he had spoken to Speed last week and received a 'good luck' message from the Welsh manager via text on Saturday morning ahead of his first game in charge.

He insisted, however, that there had been no offer of a job in the Welsh set-up, and he says he would not necessarily take one if it was offered.

The Blades moved four points clear of the relegation zone after Saturday's victory and will start a hectic period of three games in seven days when they return to action against Hull City on Boxing Day.

Doncaster's chairman John Ryan will demand around 1m in compensation if the Blades turn to O'Driscoll but has stated that he does not think his manager should go.

Blades chief executive Birch added fuel to the fire on Saturday by saying supporters might have to give a new manager time to turn things around. He also insisted that the club could survive the financial implications of relegation.

O'Driscoll is regarded as a manager who needs time to get his footballing philosophy across but is also widely admired for the way his teams play football and the way he operates.

"We are whittling down our shortlist," said Birch. "The most important thing is that we get the right person to take the club forward in the right manner off the pitch.

"That is the only way to bring back success in the long term.

"Everyone might have to be prepared to accept something other than quick fix.

"It takes time to change the way a club plays football and turn it around – and when you have 20,000 people baying for blood after five games without a win, it can be difficult.

"If we were relegated, we would cut our cloth accordingly – and we would survive," he added.

"Our current wage bill is still one of the highest in the division. We will manage that over the next 18 months, with players out of contract, and we will reshape the team. Off the pitch we have been restructuring for months. We have to be in as lean a shape as we can be off the pitch without compromising the quality of what we need to do."

Birch confirmed that directors Simon Argyll and Mark Furman had both left the club and conceded that new investment was 'not imminent'.

"We are still looking, it is still a global search, but we are out there with 25 other clubs," he said. "It is not easy and you have to stand out from the crowd.

"There is very little appetite out there for buying football clubs and many look predominantly at the Premier League."