Sheffield United: Chairman Jim Phipps answers fans

Jim Phipps
Jim Phipps
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Sheffield United chairman Jim Phipps has responded to criticism from fans after a home defeat to Millwall saw the club's League One promotion bid stall.

Phipps used his Facebook page to send a long message to supporters expressing their concern as a 2-1 loss on Saturday saw United slip to six to sixth in the table.

"Personally, I think we - the board, the management, the players, and the fans - need to step it up, if we are going to get where we want to go this season: automatic promotion. I am not blaming anyone. I am just saying we all can do better," he said.

"I start by acknowledging that, as a board, we are far from perfect. The board is, however, committed and continues to operate in a manner that allows the top football professionals at the club (both on the touchline and in the front office) to make the decisions about who wears the strip and how the football resources will be applied. Which positions do we need to strengthen? How quickly can we shrink the squad to a more rational, economical size, given the injury situation? What strength can we draw from our academy to serve the first team? Which players should be recruited and on what terms (loan, permernant, price, etcetera)?

"All such questions are left to our Technical Board (MD, football manager, FD, academy manager etc) to decide, provided they stay within board approved budgets and parameters.

In a thinly-veiled attack on previous manager Nigel Clough, he added; "That said, some of the current problems in the side (its size, for example) are byproducts of our trying as a board to be true to our approach, in circumstances where we allowed the Technical Board process to be thoroughly undermined by a gaffer who was not interested in the process; hence, some of the excesses (recruiting in quantity, signing injured players etc). We should have seen what was happening (the excesses anyway) and responded to them more quickly.

"In appointing a new football manager last summer, we specifically set out to find a gaffer who would help us re-establish a process that would prevent the repetition of the same mistakes. I am very happy with the progress we have made on this particular front and believe the fruits of the Technical Board process will show themselves over time, if we stick to the process.

"At board level, we love the club. We back that up with substantial resources and an approach that leaves the footballing decisions to our very highly-qualified and carefully-vetted front-office and touchline football professionals. We all want better performances and better results and they will come. Rome, however, wasn't built in a day. We see the problems. The gaffer sees what needs doing. We will do what needs doing and get there."