SHEFFIELD UNITED: Retiring Chris Morgan out to prove coaching credentials

Learning the ropes: Chris Morgan, left, is enjoying working with Frank Barlow.  Picture: Steve parkin
Learning the ropes: Chris Morgan, left, is enjoying working with Frank Barlow. Picture: Steve parkin
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THE end of an era?

Chris Morgan prefers to talk of a fresh chapter in life.

Because the Sheffield United defender, who last night confirmed his retirement as a player after failing to overcome a long-standing cruciate ligament problem, is about to embark on a new journey as a coach.

United’s opponents next season might breathe a sigh of relief at the news but Morgan has reassured supporters he will display the same determination in the technical area which made him the scourge of opposition strikers out on the pitch.

“Finishing might have been scary if I didn’t have anything to do,” he said. “Because being a footballer is like being institutionalised.

“Everything in your life is mapped out. But I’m really excited about what is ahead because, as a coach, I’m starting right at the bottom and having to try and work my way right up.

“I’m trying to prove myself and, as people who know me will say, I like a challenge.”

United manager Danny Wilson and his assistant Frank Barlow have already affirmed their committment to helping Morgan overcome the hurdles ahead.

“They both had to retire through injury and they’ve been a massive help,” he said. “And, for someone in my position, I’m really fortunate to have them right behind me.

“They’ve both got so much knowledge and respect. I’m just like a sponge at the moment trying to soak all of that knowledge up.”

So what are the highlights of a playing career spanning 16 years and two clubs?

Morgan, who joined United from Barnsley in 2003, admitted: “I was speaking to Frank about this the other day and he told me it will only be in a few years that you start to pick out specific incidents and memories.

“At the moment, all of the games I’ve played just seem to have morphed into one.

“Obviously things like the play-off finals stand-out and getting promotion to the Premier League.

“But Frank is right. I think it’s only going to be in a couple of years time that I’ll be able to properly answer that question.”

Morgan’s exact role with United has still to be defined but paperwork acknowledging his change of status is in the process of being lodged with the Football Association. In the dressing room, demarcation lines have already been drawn.

“I’ve been really close to some of the lads - like Monty (Nick Montgomery) and Cressy (Richard Cresswell) - for so many years and although we’ll still be mates, professionally of course our relationship has changed,” Morgan said. “I’ve got to say, though, they’ve been absolutely great. Brilliant in fact.

“Don’t get me wrong, they wind me up.

“I’m rooming with Frank in Malta and there have been messages pinned to our door saying ‘Frank and Chris Barlow,’ ‘Father and Son Barlow,’ stuff like that.”