Sheffield United: James Shield’s take on Weir’s departure

David Weir � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
David Weir � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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Here we go again.

Four months after appointing David Weir and only six since dismissing Danny Wilson, Sheffield United once again find themselves searching for a new manager.

It is a theme which has become more tiresome, predictable even, than the string of defeats which ultimately cost the former Scotland international his job and left the South Yorkshire club staring up (perilously close to the bottom of) at the rest of the League One table.

Not to mention the biggest single factor behind its demise as a serious sporting power.

Given United results - they have won once and lost nine of the 13 matches Weir spent in charge - few supporters will probably mourn his departure.

But the demise of a deeply principled, thoroughly decent individual who, despite this set-back possesses all the qualities required to forge a successful coaching career, should be cause for sorrow rather than celebration.

Weir, who unlike some of his contemporaries never shied away from the fact he shouldered ultimate responsibility for events on the pitch, quickly overhauled those aspects of United’s operations off it which belonged in the dark ages.

Perhaps, on reflection, the pace of change was too great. But it would be a grave mistake to pretend Weir had not embarked upon a necessary process and, whoever becomes United’s ninth manager in six years, must be prepared to continue much of his work.

Everyone connected with the game - directors, supporters and commentators alike - have contributed towards a crazy situation whereby those charged with delivering prolonged success are given, on average, just 1.67 seasons to deliver.

We preach patience, wax lyrical about the value of consistency and sneer at others when they pull the trigger.

Then, closer to home, start talking about a crisis following a handful of disappointing results. Duplicity reins supreme. It is a sorry state of affairs when glossy advertisements and free columns offered to newspapers encourage folk to bet on someone else losing their livelihood.

So what of United? The first item on their ‘to-do’ list this morning must be deciding exactly who they want to be.

Exponents of ‘up and at ‘em’ blue collar type football or a more sophisticated, technical team.

Either is fine. There are merits in both.

But lurching violently from one different tactical philosophy to the next has left them without any discernible identity and kept staff in a constant state of flux.

Not to mention ensured countless millions have been wasted as the latest name in the hotseat seeks to stamp their own mark on the squad.

Weir took on a huge challenge when he accepted United’s invitation to replace Wilson at the helm.

So huge in fact that, with hindsight, it might have been prudent to bring an experienced old head on board to work alongside assistants Lee Carsley and Adam Owen.

Especially when the decision to hand Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad 50 per cent of United’s parent company in return for a multi-million pound investment dramatically changed the dynamics of the job.

Although no criticism of the individuals concerned should be inferred or implied.

Not even Weir would seek to argue that a run of form which saw United take five points from a possible 30 and score only six goals in over 15 hours of open play did not place him in an extremely vulnerable position.

So while his brief tenure can hardly be described as a success neither, despite the narrative being peddled by some so-called experts, was it a complete disaster either.

Indeed, United’s performances against Preston North End and Wolverhampton Wanderers suggested there was light at the end of the tunnel.

That a group of players inevitably low on confidence was starting to get to grips with the methods he employed before reverting to type.

So, when it comes to writing Weir’s epitaph at United, perhaps we should paraphrase Napoleon.

He was a general big on ideas and ability. But extremely low on luck.