Nigel Clough’s planning for next season was already underway when he was sacked as Sheffield United manager yesterday.
The 49-year-old’s 19-month reign at Bramall Lane came to an end yesterday morning, with a club statement insisting that United’s board felt a “change in direction was necessary for the forthcoming season”.
But Clough, who brought teenage starlet Che Adams to the club and worked extensively with young players like Louis Reed and Terry Kennedy, was confident that his side possessed the tools to go one better next term, following their play-off semi-final defeat to Swindon Town earlier this month.
“You can see the potential we’ve got,” Clough said, almost immediately after the 5-5 second-leg draw.
“When you see young Che coming on and doing so well.
“Paul Coutts and Jamie Murphy did well out there. Ryan Flynn too. When you consider all of that, before you’ve even brought anyone in, there’s a lot there.
“We’re only 18 months in. We’ve gone from bottom six to top six in that time. I know that’s not good enough for some but there you go. We’ve progressed even though, ultimately, we’ve failed with regards to promotion.”
“We learned a lot about the players out there,” Clough, who had identified the need for defensive reinforcements before his dismissal, added.
“We also learned more about what we need for next season. We had a pretty good idea already, it confirmed some things out there. You can see the qualities Bash [Chris Basham] brings to midfield. He wins the ball, he breaks play up and can also score goals.”
Clough’s backroom staff, including Gary Crosby, Andy Garner, Martin Taylor, Simon Clough, Michael Forsyth and Matt Brown, will follow the former Derby manager out of the Bramall Lane exit door.
The United statement added that the club hope to make a new appointment within a “relatively short period of time”.
Clough earlier this month released three first-team players - Michael Doyle, Iain Turner and Ben Davies - and decided against making Jason Holt’s loan move from Hearts permanent.