Alan Biggs at Large: Stability key for Blades as Manchester United clash looms

Nigel Adkins, manager of Sheffield Utd
Nigel Adkins, manager of Sheffield Utd
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Manchester United away should be able to effect quite a degree of change for a club in Sheffield United’s position.

Whatever the result of Saturday’s FA Cup tie, it’s a timely financial boost in a month when change is certainly needed.

Ex-Blades boss David Weir

Ex-Blades boss David Weir

But one thing the Bramall Lane hierarchy must surely be working on is AVOIDING change on this scale in future.

And the only one day to do that is instil more continuity of management. After all, what we have now is a manager overhauling his predecessor’s squad.

That’s time consuming and expensive for a club that needs to be heading full tilt in one direction.

I wonder if Blades have caught on to a drift in the fundamentals of professional football that sees a manager (or coach) put in front of an existing structure rather than being charged with creating it.

In United’s case you could argue there isn’t one, a structure that is.


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Amid a myriad of manager changes this club has lost its way on what it stands for in how the game is played and recruitment from top to bottom.

Nigel Clough was put in overall charge of this, a move I supported as bringing old-fashioned management (Ferguson, Wenger style) back into vogue.

For whatever reason (and now is not the time to prolong the arguments), it was not seen to work and United now have a manager with clearly a different, more defined first team remit in Nigel Adkins.

No wonder the transition has been less than smooth. Somewhere between the two, United must find a formula that works for the longer term.

Strange as it may seem, maybe there was actually some method underlying one of the game’s most extreme acts of madness in recent times.

Yes, it was barmy of Brentford to wave off Mark Warburton during the most successful period of the club’s history. But, in defence of owner Matthew Benham, he was looking longer-term than a one-season push for the Premier League.

Brentford now sit a handy 10th in the Championship with Dean Smith in team charge after a stabilising spell under Lee Carsley, once briefly of Bramall Lane by coincidence.

The fact that Carsley should prove so effective with the Bees – as was David Weir - appears to show flaws in United as a club rather than the individuals who have passed through.

Weir was cast as a hapless figure before re-establishing himself under Warburton at Brentford and moving with him to Glasgow Rangers.

It seems to be an irreversible reality that managers will come and go. Happily, United have learned enough to accept that Adkins must be backed to succeed.

But the front-of-house guy will always be in the most vulnerable position and the Blades have to create a working model into which future team bosses fit rather than overturning the whole management team at each twist and turn.

Arguably, it’s an even more important process than the transfer window in which, perversely, United need to shed more players than they sign.

And the reason for that?