Sheffield United: Former star says Speed’s departure was a turning point

Mark Yeates (right) during his spell with Sheffield United
Mark Yeates (right) during his spell with Sheffield United
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Bradford City winger Mark Yeates has claimed Sheffield United’s decline as a Championship superpower can be traced back to Gary Speed’s departure as manager.

And Yeates, speaking ahead of his former club’s visit to Valley Parade today, insisted the situation was exacerbated by the decision not to appoint John Carver as Speed’s permanent successor following a brief spell in caretaker charge.

Speed, who died 11 months after leaving South Yorkshire to lead the Wales national team in December 2010, spent only 18 games in the Bramall Lane hotseat.

Yeates, a member of the squad which was subsequently relegated at the end of turbulent season, said: “If I look back or any people involved with the club or any fan does, you’ve got to look at Speedo going. He showed his full support to players and what he believed in.

“He got offered the Wales job and if he’d not moved on, it could have been different. John Carver, Speedo’s assistant, came in as caretaker for three games and even if they’d given him the job, I think we’d have probably kicked on as we had a good bond with him and Speedo.

“Obviously, Micky Adams came in and it didn’t work out the way he wanted and, with me and him, things went a bit funny and I moved on.”

Having made strides forward under Danny Wilson, United travel to West Yorkshire with David Weir at the helm.

Weir, who represented Everton and Glasgow Rangers as a player, boasts an enviable reputation with the game and his credentials have been backed by the likes of Walter Smith, Craig Brown and David Moyes.

Yeates, who believes Weir can guide United out of the third tier, recently joined City from Watford: “United is a club full of top people from top to bottom and the fans are great as well and there were no hard feelings. I’ve good memories.

“Bradford versus Sheffield United should be a Championship game. They have a lot of new players in and will see it as a work in progress, but we are two massive clubs and with the quality of players we have, you’d like to think we’ll be in and around the top six come the end. It would be nice if we both went up.”