Former Blades and Reds star Chris Morgan heads in new direction

THEY say that life begins at 40, but when Chris Morgan reached that particular milestone in November he had plenty of food for thought.

Happy days: Sheffield United's Chris Morgan celebrates with the Championship runners-up plate with team-mates after the match against Crystal Palace at Bramall Lane in April, 2006.

After being sacked from his position as assistant manager at Chesterfield in January 2017 and leaving Port Vale just under nine months later after serving as an assistant to former Sheffield United team-mate Michael Brown, Morgan would have been forgiven for bidding good riddance to an unkind 2017.

Involved in professional football for all of his working life, the former Blades and Barnsley defender took stock before a chance conversation with his former agent at the Stellar Group set the wheels in motion for a career switch to become a football agent with the well-respected company.

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Renowned as someone who led from the front on the football pitch during a rock-solid career in which he watched his team-mates’ backs and was a big dressing-room influence and authority, Morgan is now showing that same duty of care in his new role looking after his clients.

In typical Morgan fashion, his commitment is unstinting.

Morgan told The Yorkshire Post: “It was a big decision. I had been out of work since the beginning of October when we got the sack at Port Vale.

“You have a month to gather your thoughts and do all the usual things about what I would do differently next time.

“A couple of bits and bobs came up and they did not really take my fancy and that is not being disrespectful to the people who I spoke to.

“Through Christmas, Dave Lockwood, who was my agent in Stellar when I was a player, spoke about working as a football agent in a chance conversation, to be honest, and everything sort of went from there.

“I went to Liverpool, met Dave and had a chat with him. He said there was an opportunity to work in the Yorkshire area in player-management and recruitment and I thought about it for a bit and said, ‘You know what, it really interests me’.

“It is similar in a way to coaching, but also totally different. You are still dealing and talking to players and watching potential new players, whether that is for an agency or a club.

“You watch games in a similar way, although it is a different career path.

“I do not look at it as if I have come away from football. I am still watching games at all levels – from Under-16s to first-team football.

“I have always gone to games and, at the end of the day, I will always love watching football whether it is watching my daughter playing on a Saturday morning or going out to watch a first-team game.

“I just looked at this as an exciting opportunity that has come up for me on a different side of football, but still being involved with the game. It is a side where I can still build up a career for myself.”

He quipped: “The pals I have got in the game describe it as going over to the dark side.

“And it is a different career. But I have been given a fantastic opportunity to work for a brilliant company, who I have been with and associated with since 2002.

“It is going to take a while to find my feet, but I will get my teeth into it and give it a good go. That is what I have always done as a player, coach or assistant manager. I have always given everything 100 per cent and I will give this the same.

“You are always looking to give good advice to young players. It is a similar offering to what I did as a player.”

Given that, in coaching and managerial terms, Morgan is still relatively young at 40, putting his dug-out career on the back-burner still represented a major decision.

More especially for someone who holds an FA UEFA Pro Licence and who also temporarily took on the first-team reins at United twice and at Vale in a caretaking role – and who was always viewed as firm managerial material by many in the game long before he hung up his boots.

But with life in management seeming to get more precarious by the year, Morgan remains comfortable in his decision and secure in the knowledge that his move is the best thing for him and his family.

He added: “I thought long and hard about it after my experiences at Chesterfield and Port Vale and the big thing for me was the actual longevity of coaching and management.

“I spoke to the guys at Stellar about it. I will never deny that I always wanted a shot at being a manager.

“I had a couple of spells as an assistant after leaving Sheffield United and it did not really work out.

“You wonder whether that was your fault or due to different situations you inherit; I don’t think you look for excuses.”

Offering his take on the increasingly volatile nature of management, Morgan remarked: “It is tricky.

“I did just over 12 months at Chesterfield and eight months at Port Vale.

“Chris Lucketti, who is a pal of mine, left a brilliant job as assistant manager at Scunthorpe and, after 10 or 11 games at Bury, he was out of work.

“You look at Grant McCann at Peterborough and they were ninth or 10th in the league (when he was sacked at the end of last month).

“I know sometimes there are other circumstances, but you can actually lose your job when you are not doing badly.

“It is precarious and everyone knows that in the industry of both football management and coaching.

“We go into it because that is what we know and enjoy. I will keep my badges up as I have worked hard and am a UEFA Pro Licence holder and am not going to let that go. I put a lot of time and effort into that and will keep that.

“But, at this moment in time, I am pursuing a different career path.”