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New Blades boss Adkins sets sights high as he faces ‘exciting challenge’

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NIGEL ADKINS last night targeted a return to the Premier League after becoming Sheffield United’s new manager.

The 50-year-old has been handed a three-year contract by the Blades and will be joined at Bramall Lane by assistant manager Andy Crosby and first-team coach Dean Wilkins.

Adkins, a veteran of three promotions from League One in his managerial career, succeeds Nigel Clough to become the club’s eighth managerial appointment in as many years.

His first task is to end United’s stay in the third tier at the fifth time of asking.

But that is far from the end of his ambitions, as the former Scunthorpe United and Southampton chief made clear at his unveiling in London.

“This is a fantastic football club with a great history,” said the new Blades chief.

“It has a superb fan base and we are really excited with the challenge in front of us.

“We know League One is a massive challenge having been there ourselves. The Championship has the international breaks but we don’t get that in League One.

“It is a slog, it is a grind and we have to navigate our way through. We have to be respectful of that.

“Obviously, from a Sheffield United perspective, we are looking to get ourselves promoted this season.

“From everyone’s point of view, we need to get back to the next level – which is the Championship.

“The end goal is to get to the Premier League. But one step at a time and we have to build the infrastructure to get it right, and we have experience of doing that.”

Adkins’s most recent job was at Reading, where he was dismissed in December last year after just nine months in charge.

However, his CV includes taking Southampton into the top flight following back-to-back promotions and a board which last week had an approach for Bradford City’s Phil Parkinson rebuffed is hoping he can recreate that success in South Yorkshire.

On his plans for the Blades, Adkins said: “We will look at everything that is in situ at the moment, look at the squad and see where we need to improve. We have obviously got our own ideas already because we have been watching a lot of football over the last five months. That has been really beneficial from our point of view.”

Adkins succeeds Clough, who was sacked along with his six-man coaching staff following the club’s play-off semi-final defeat to Swindon Town.