Sheffield United: Mistakes made but lessons being learned, insists Kevin McCabe

Alan Knill assistant manager, Chris Wilder the new manager of Sheffield Utd and Kevin McCabe co-owner
Alan Knill assistant manager, Chris Wilder the new manager of Sheffield Utd and Kevin McCabe co-owner
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Kevin McCabe has admitted strategic mistakes contributed to Sheffield United’s disappointing performances last term.

But, after unveiling Chris Wilder as its new manager, the League One club’s co-owner insisted his appointment demonstrates that lessons are being learned behind the scenes.

Wilder became the ninth person to take charge of United since May 2007 when Nigel Adkins’ reign came to an abrupt end on Thursday morning. Despite winning promotions with both Scunthorpe and Southampton, the 51-year-old struggled to achieve results during 11 difficult months in South Yorkshire before being dismissed last week.

“Chris’ career is on an upward curve,” McCabe said. “Some of our past managers have been good managers, good choices, but perhaps they’ve come at a time when the dynamism they must have had in the past it not what was required here. Chris will live and breathe Sheffield United 24/7. And he’s at an age where he’ll still keep on learning and improving. He knows how to get from A to B quicker than he did five years ago for example.”

McCabe’s mea culpa will be welcomed by supporters who, despite welcoming Wilder’s presence, have grown tired of United’s impulsive decision-making in recent seasons. It was very revealing too. Rubbishing suggestions that Bramall Lane’s hierarchy lack ambition - “I’m tolerant but impatiently intolerant” - McCabe indicated that a perceived lack of foresight in the transfer market had hastened Adkins’ demise.

Wilder, a former United player, led Northampton Town to the League Two title before replacing Adkins at the helm and cited his ability to “get a pint out of a half pint pot” as a major factor behind that success.

“When we appoint someone, I try and give them every bit of support,” McCabe said. “Maybe the fault has been at times they’ve got too much financial support and too little observational support?

“I won’t name names but we shouldn’t have signed some of the players we have signed. They don’t have the legs.

“But if managers sign them then they play them. Sometimes, maybe managers should accept mistakes rather than try to paper over them. We all make mistakes but sometimes, if you admit them, it’s easier to correct them. Who motivates a manager, it’s usually the chairman.”