Sheffield United’s next manager will be allowed to reshape the squad he inherits from predecessor Nigel Clough as the League One club bids ensure it again challenges for promotion next season, writes James Shield.
But co-owners Kevin McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who received over 50 applications from potential candidates when the former England international’s departure was first announced, also stressed the importance of being able to work to strict budget throughout a selection process which drew to a close yesterday.
Clough’s replacement is set to have, by third tier standards, significant financial resources placed at his disposal. However, the qualities short-listed applicants were asked to demonstrate suggest there is unlikely to be a repeat of last summer’s wholesale makeover which saw 10 new faces arrive at Bramall Lane.
Instead, recruitment ahead of the 2015/16 campaign is expected to focus on addressing those weaknesses, particularly at centre-forward and centre-half, which Clough himself acknowledged had been factors behind United’s defeat in the play-off semi-finals.
With Michael Doyle leaving South Yorkshire following the expiry of his contract, appointing a captain also features on the regime’s ‘to-do’ list.
Representatives working on behalf of McCabe and Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad, including co-chairman Jim Phipps, convened over the weekend to disseminate the information gleaned either directly from those vying to take charge or close confidents working within the game.
Despite reports to the contrary, The Star understands that Swindon Town’s Mark Cooper was not a serious contender despite orchestrating a 7-6 aggregate victory over United in the end-of-season knockouts. John Hughes, the Inverness Caledonian Thistle chief, met with a member of their board of directors following Gary Speed’s departure in December 2010 but, on this occasion, did not hold talks.
Doyle, meanwhile, appears poised to join Portsmouth.
The former Republic of Ireland international made over 200 appearances for United after leaving Coventry City in 2011.
Doyle, aged 33, has previously represented AGF and Leeds. He featured as a late substitute during the first-leg of United’s recent double-header against Swindon and was an unused substitute for the return.