Comment: Blame should be shared over Sheffield United’s slump

Kevin McCabe, Nigel Adkins and Jim Phipps
Kevin McCabe, Nigel Adkins and Jim Phipps
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There is rarely ever only one person to blame when a football club loses its way. Even 40 miles up the M1, it wasn’t all the fault of a madcap owner that a talented squad was floundering under a manager not without a track record... until, hey presto, a couple of wins.

While Leeds fans are pointing mainly in the direction of the chairman, Sheffield United supporters are understandably lashing out in all directions, unsure who to blame for the current predicament.

by Pete McKee

by Pete McKee

That in itself underlines the general truth stated above. Where such confusion applies, responsibility has to be collective.

No one individual, whether it be Kevin McCabe, Prince Abdullah, Nigel Adkins or any player, is solely responsible for this sad state of affairs.

But a collective unit starts at the top and a collective on-going failure can only be corrected from the top.

In my opinion, it is not only in an overblown and under-achieving playing squad that the Blades are top heavy.

As listed in the last match programme, there are ten board members. Ten. And crucially, still no chief executive figure post Mal Brannigan. If they are split on the manager, as logically rumoured, who could possibly be surprised?

I’m not doubting anyone’s commitment. It amounts to £90m and £15m respectively in the case of the two top men. It can’t be all about money or Sheffield United would not be in this mess.

Ask ten people a question and you might not get ten different answers - but you are certain to get three or four. Even two or three is too many.

This column understands there are people within the hierarchy with well-grounded ideas on the way forward, based on the club needing an identity and structure that stays intact regardless of who leads the team on the field.

But this philosophy will be swimming about with others in the think tank. And ultimately you have two people calling the shots, two people who can, with the support of the other, dictate a sudden change of course. Two people who can’t possibly agree on everything. And most certainly don’t.

Recent questions posed here hang tantalisingly in mid-air. Will the Prince, who owns half of a team and not a club, add to an investment that has bought less value than when he started? Would he require outright control in order to do so?

In that event, should McCabe choose this as the moment to take a back seat on the football side, while retaining ownership of the property structure? If he did then I feel he would, or should, be accorded nothing but respect and gratitude. Some poor decisions apart, he can rightly point to several cruel twists of fortune, having devoted so much of his own to the cause.

United have a ground and academy to be proud of; the club is financially secure, an achievement not to be belittled or taken for granted when so many have run aground.

All of this, and the certainty that the Blades will one day rise again from such a base, owes to McCabe. On the other hand, soundings suggest that any internal doubts in Adkins come from the other side of the boardroom partnership, from which there has been weeks of silence, whereas McCabe has emphatically supported the manager, potentially heading off more upheaval.

Could the 67-year-old take the lead role once again? Would he or should he? That is the alternative. Not a case of taking sides here. Just the view that clear leadership needs to be restored one way or the other.