Blades pin hopes on Morgan’s style of leadership

Sheffield United Kevin McCabe and Chris Morgan
Sheffield United Kevin McCabe and Chris Morgan
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Kevin McCabe yesterday ruled out a Bramall Lane return for Neil Warnock as he launched a staunch defence of his decision to sack Danny Wilson.

Sheffield United owner McCabe says Wilson was dismissed purely because results at the Lane were not good enough.

Coach and former captain Chris Morgan has been given until the end of the season to win promotion for the Blades with McCabe backing the loyal club servant to inspire a transformation of fortunes on home soil.

And although he did not say when he would relinquish ownership of the club or how long he would go on for, the 64-year-old did add that he will not “rest easy” until Sheffield United are back in the Premier League

Warnock was the last man to lead the Blades to the top flight, in 2005-06, but they were relegated after one season and he left the club.

Just a week after leaving Leeds United, Warnock said yesterday he would welcome a return to the club he supported as a boy, potentially in a director of football capacity.

But McCabe said: “I have not spoken to Neil Warnock, David (Green – the Blades’ football chairman) has not spoken to Neil Warnock, so the media have picked up on something that is a fabrication.”

On the possibility of a future role for Warnock, McCabe added: “I don’t think so, no, we’re well served.”

McCabe also insisted that he and the board had given adequate backing for Wilson to achieve promotion.

Last year the Blades missed out by three points on automatic elevation to the Championship, garnering a staggering 90 points in finishing third. They then lost on penalties in the play-off final to Huddersfield Town.

The 35 goals of Ched Evans helped them to the verge of promotion, but when he was jailed for rape last April, United’s hopes were dented.

Wilson unearthed a gem in Nick Blackman in the summer, but after scoring 11 goals he was sold to Premier League strugglers Reading in January.

McCabe said he did not regret the decision to sanction the sale of Blackman.

“Players don’t last at clubs for ever, they are bound to come and go, and Nick Blackman got the chance to go to a Premier League club,” he said.

“It’s very difficult to keep those players, and until we get back to the Premier League, it’s difficult to keep any players.

“We’ve totally backed him (Wilson) in every way, shape or form with the players that we’ve brought in in the two years he was with us.

“In both transfer windows the club were active to strengthen the team for a promotion push this season.

“We brought players in who in theory should be scoring the goals, but in practice it’s not proven to be the case.”

Wilson might still have achieved promotion in the remaining five games of his initial two-year contract.

United are six points off an automatic promotion place with two games in hand.

They have lost just twice in 12 games, and have been beaten only seven times all season, the joint lowest total in the Football League.

Yet it is their home form, just one win since Boxing Day and no goals for six hours, culminating in the 2-0 defeat to Crawley on Tuesday night, that had left supporters disillusioned and forced McCabe to act.

He said: “For whatever reason our home form, as statistics prove, meant that we weren’t getting the points we need to achieve our aim of success and promotion, hence the decision.

“At Bramall Lane, a place that clubs used to think was a fortress and where we rarely lost, we have been turning in some disappointing performances.

“We need to win at Bramall Lane, so therefore let’s do something positive to try and turn the three games to play at Bramall Lane into a success.

“The talks I had with Danny were frequent, it’s been on my mind for some weeks.

“But really it was through talking to colleagues that we realised we’ve got to get promotion this season, we believe we’re good enough for promotion.

“The missing link is really the home form and it was how to cure the missing link.

“It’s all about results and we weren’t getting results at home.”

To that end, McCabe hopes Morgan justifies what is a massive gamble, with the experience of Wilson replaced by the passion of the the 35-year-old from Barnsley.

“I’m hoping that Chris and his style will make us successful at Bramall Lane in the remaining fixtures,” said McCabe.

“Chris has got a way of leading Sheffield United that will hopefully get more out of the team and get us across the line.

“A different style of leadership may make the players perform more admirably at home and turn these points into wins.

“It might seem strange with five games to go, but it’s done with a purpose to get us back into the Championship.”

McCabe also said his company the Scarborough Group are still in negotiations with investors in Africa following the appointment to the boards of that company, and Sheffield United plc, of Nigerian investment banker Jacob Esan, last September.

Esan was brought on board to attract investment to the football club.

McCabe said: “We are still in negotiations and we are talking to investors internationally.”

Morgan’s debt: Page 22.