Jackett and Morgan set to lead chase for Blades post

Kenny JackettKenny Jackett
Kenny Jackett
KENNY JACKETT and Chris Morgan are the new front-runners for the vacant Sheffield United managerial post, with the club having hastily switched targets following Stuart McCall’s decision to reject a move.

Both are understood to have been interviewed by the Blades board last week, with former Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate and No 1 target McCall among others spoken to.

Concern over the playing budget at Bramall Lane is thought to be the pivotal factor in McCall’s decision to turn down the chance to manage his former club, with the 48-year-old informing the Blades of his decision at this weekend.

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Jackett, 51, and Morgan, 35, have now emerged as the leading candidates to take over, although if United decide to plump for the former, they will have to beat off potential rival interest from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The Midlands outfit spoke to ex-Millwall manager Jackett, pictured right. about the head coach position at Molineux recently, with Owen Coyle and Crewe’s Steve Davis among others interviewed.

Former Blades interim boss Morgan has made no secret of his desire to land the full-time manager’s job and alongside being interviewed, has also held extensive talks with senior club figures earlier this month, looking into the reasons behind the failure to clinch promotion.

The news of McCall’s decision to snub a move to Bramall Lane represents a blow to the club’s board, with the 48-year-old having been widely expected to take the Blades’ reins after Motherwell gave them permission to speak to him.

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The former Bradford City manager, also an ex-player and former assistant boss at Bramall Lane, spoke to the Blades’ board at length on Thursday, but after much thought decided to turn them down.

McCall, recently voted as the Clydesdale Bank manager of the year after steering Motherwell to second place in the SPL, is thought to be prepared to move back south only if the right offer comes along to enable him to fulfil his managerial ambitions.

Earlier this year, he rebuffed the advances of Barnsley after Inverness Caledonian manager Terry Butcher rejected the opportunity to take over, and has also been linked with moves to other clubs, including Doncaster Rovers.

He and his family are known to be happy and settled in Lanarkshire, having only moved up there from Yorkshire around six months ago.

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Confirming his decision, McCall, who signed a new two-year contract in March, said: “It has been a really difficult last few days. As most people probably know, I spent five great years at Sheffield United.

“I was grateful to the board for allowing me to speak to them, but I went with an open mind. I had no desire to leave Motherwell after enjoying two-and-a-half great years at the club. There’s no doubt Sheffield United are a fantastic club but, after careful consideration and deliberation, I am more than happy to continue my current role at Fir Park.

“I have built up a tremendous feeling for Motherwell, the people who work at the club and the supporters.

“It would take something really special to tempt me away.”

MK Dons manager Karl Robinson has also been linked with the Blades post, with his work at the Buckinghamshire club understood to have impressed the Blades.

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But the 32-year-old, who met with his agent last week for talks regarding his future, is now expected to stay at MK Dons.

A hefty six-figure compensation fee, which United would need to fork out to break Robinson from his contract that runs until 2014, would have represented another significant barrier to any move for him.

Former Blades midfielder Stephen Quinn, meanwhile, has secured a call-up to the Republic of Ireland squad following the withdrawal of Leeds United’s Paul Green with a hamstring injury.

The Hull City player could now crown a vintage campaign – which has seen him help the Tigers clinch promotion to the Premier League – with a dream first appearance for the Republic in tomorrow’s glamour friendly with England at Wembley.

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Capped nine times by Ireland at Under-21 level, 27-year-old Quinn expressed fears to the Yorkshire Post last month that he might never get the chance to represent his country at senior level, having continually been overlooked by manager Giovanni Trappatoni, while admitting he would give his ‘left foot to play for Ireland’.

Now Quinn has been handed the chance he has been craving, with Ireland following the clash at Wembley with a home game against Georgia on Sunday.

Trappatoni’s side then entertain footballing minnows Faroe Islands in a World Cup qualifier on Friday, June 7 in the Irish capital before rounding off their programme with a high-profile encounter with Spain at New York’s Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, June 11.

On the decision to call up Quinn following Green’s unfortunate injury, Trappatoni said: “He’s a good midfielder, quick and dynamic with a good personality.”