James Shield’s Sheffield United Column: Morgan proves his class

Chris Morgan (centre) impressed as caretaker manager � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Chris Morgan (centre) impressed as caretaker manager � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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I’ve learnt two things over the past fortnight.

The first, as rumours claiming Sven Goran Eriksson was a dead-cert to arrive at Bramall Lane demonstrated, is that folk afford an inordinate amount of credence to bookmakers’ odds.

The second that Chris Morgan, assessing his spell in caretaker charge of Sheffield United, is destined to follow in Nigel Clough’s footsteps and become an accomplished manager.

Clough, named as David Weir’s permanent successor earlier this week, paid the 35-year-old a handsome tribute during his official unveiling ahead of tomorrow’s League One fixture against Crewe Alexandra.

It was certainly deserved.

Morgan inherited a group of players low on results and even lower on confidence following David Weir’s departure 14 days ago. He relinquished control having transformed both their self-belief and results.

An achievement, Clough insisted, which “should not be under-estimated” given events surrounding his interim appointment.

Bold and fearless as a player, it came as no surprise to see Morgan, who made nearly 300 appearances for the South Yorkshire club before sustaining a career-ending injury, confront rather than shy away from taking onerous decisions. Only a brave man, for example, would substitute Marlon King at Coventry City after the Jamaica international had elected to miss World Cup qualification duty in order to take part in the match.

“If you accept responsibility,” he told me recently. “You can’t duck these things. “

But, as quickly became apparent, behind Morgan’s tough guy image a sophisticated thinker lurks.

Handing Mick Wadsworth the role of interim assistant spoke volumes about his maturity and self-awareness. The manner of United’s second-half performance at Coventry and victory over Port Vale highlighted Morgan’s motivational powers.

Most revealing, though, was the organisation and tactical discipline they displayed to keep a previously free-scoring Peterborough at bay. A clean sheet gained courtesy of sheer hard work and meticulous preparation.

Morgan, as he admits himself, remains far from the finished article.

But, as Clough acknowledged, he is still a class act.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1