Blades rivals acquire ‘the knowledge’

Elder statesman: Crystal Palace's Lennie Lawrence has a wealth of experience.
Elder statesman: Crystal Palace's Lennie Lawrence has a wealth of experience.
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DOUGIE Freedman’s managerial career might be only nine games old but Micky Adams, whose Sheffield United side visit Crystal Palace this afternoon, still expects his rival to prove a worthy adversary.

One of Freedman’s first tasks after taking charge at Selhurst Park was to appoint Lennie Lawrence, the experienced former Middlesbrough, Cardiff and Charlton Athletic chief, as his assistant. The move mirrors Adams’ decision to bring Dave Bassett, one of the most successful characters in United’s recent history, back to Bramall Lane in a consultancy role.

Speaking ahead of today’s match, which could have a crucial bearing on the Championship’s relegation battle, Adams said: “Dougie has already made his best move and that was bringing Lennie in.

“Lennie, like Harry, is someone you can only learn from.

“I’ve never actually worked with or for him but I’ve met Lennie on quite a few courses and he’s full of knowledge. I’ve picked up plenty from him on those.”

Adams and Freedman first crossed paths at Nottingham Forest where the United manager was a member of Bassett’s backroom staff.

“Dougie was a player there at the time and although, to be fair, things didn’t work out for him too well at Forest he was an absolutely first-class professional,” Adams recalled.

“He was someone who always wanted the team to do well rather than himself, and that’s becoming increasingly rare these days.”

United travelled south last night 22nd in the table - one place and two points behind their hosts - and four adrift of 20th placed Middlesbrough.

Given the stakes, Adams is not expecting an aesthetically-pleasing encounter - “Is it going to be like Barca and Arsenal? What do you think?” - but hopes new loan signings Sam Vokes and Bjorn Helge Riise can both spread a veneer of quality across what is likely to be a nerve-wracking contest.

“They’ve brought a freshness to the training ground and also competition for places,” Adams said.

“That can only be a good thing.

“Coupled with that, they’ve both got Premier League experience. Not a lot granted. But they’ve got it nonetheless, which tells you something about their ability.”