Sheffield United: Blades want new man in place before Port Vale clash

Sheffield United's Stephen McGinn during yesterday's match with Coventry City at Sixfields � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United's Stephen McGinn during yesterday's match with Coventry City at Sixfields � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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Sheffield United’s search for David Weir’s replacement took a fresh twist last night after it was claimed that Nigel Clough, one of the leading contenders for the role, would prefer to reach a settlement with his former club Derby County before re-entering management.

Although Clough is believed to be interested in exploring the possibility of taking charge at Bramall Lane, sources close to the 47-year-old report he is uneasy about the prospect of securing a new job while talks with Pride Park officials are still on-going.

James Phipps, special advisor to United’s co-owner Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad, acknowledged following Weir’s departure on Friday that the League One club’s hierarchy would prefer to make an announcement before this weekend’s meeting with Port Vale.

Although it can not be ruled-out, The Star understands that Clough’s appointment remained far from a ‘done-deal’ ahead of yesterday’s League One fixture against Coventry City with a number of other candidates also being actively considered by the Prince, Kevin McCabe and other leading members of the board.

Roy Keane could enter the fray after considering the post before Weir’s arrival in June while Leyton Orient’s Russell Slade, Keith Curle, Michael Appleton, Richie Barker of Crawley Town and MK Dons’ Karl Robinson are known to boast admirers at United. Tony Pulis, previously of Stoke City, has also been linked with the vacancy.

Outlining the credentials Weir’s successor must possess, United director Phipps said: “We didn’t take the decision (to dispense with Weir) before considering what the future would look like or considering the type of person we might need. The type of person who would be the best fit given what we already have available in the squad.”

Phipps, citing the lack of a settled starting eleven as a major factor behind United’s position at the foot of the table, added: “What we certainly don’t need is another round of change and upheaval.

“We have probably used too many players so far as it is. The roster doesn’t need to get any longer and, if anything, it needs to get more trim.”

United dropped into 24th place following the defeat by City at Sixfields Stadium.

Robinson, Walsall’s Dean Smith and Vale assistant Robert Page, whose side visit United this weekend, were among the crowd as Lyle Taylor’s second-half brace saw them come within a whisker of securing what would have been a deserved point after Leon Clarke (2) and Callum Wilson had powered the hosts in front.

Caretaker manager Chris Morgan, who revealed Jose Baxter had been withdrawn due to a slight calf strain, said: “Jose came in ‘feeling’ it a bit and that was still the case during the match. So we were conscious, because of that, about the prospect of making the problem worse. That’s something we didn’t want to do.”