Alexander Blessin answers latest questions about becoming Sheffield United's next manager
Alexander Blessin, the KV Oostende manager, has appeared to distance himself from Sheffield United after reminding that he is under contract at the Belgian Pro League outfit for another season.
Blessin emerged as United’s No.1 managerial target after the search for Chris Wilder’s successor reached Belgium, where United have a sister club in Beerschot and where Jan van Winckel, United owner Prince Abdullah’s de facto director of football, is heavily involved.
But United’s pursuit of Blessin, who has transformed Oostende’s fortunes this season with his brand of high-pressing football, hit a snag when it emerged that he does not have the required experience to qualify for a work permit to manage in England.
Officials at Bramall Lane continue to investigate if they can launch an appeal in a bid to obtain a Governing Body Endorsement [GBE] for the German coach.
And despite insisting his concentration is firmly on Oostende’s play-off campaign, Blessin also teased: “In football, you are never sure.”
“You shouldn't always believe what is being told,” he added, when asked about the United links.
“Sometimes something is right, sometimes it's just rumours.
“The concentration is now completely on the play-offs. And another thing: I am still under contract here for one more year.
“You can burn yourself if you suddenly take a step higher without thinking about it. Why not confirm with Ostend?
“The second year is more difficult, so maybe I can get a lot better here. I have no problem staying at all. But in football you are never sure.”
United’s decision to investigate ways they may still be able to appoint Blessin as their first permanent foreign manager underlines the strength of interest that they have in the former RB Leipzig youth coach, who has impressed the Bramall Lane hierarchy with his success on a budget at Oostende.
Crucially, he also plays a 3-5-2 formation similar to the one that brought United two promotions in three years under Wilder. With United’s squad recruited to play that formation, it is seen as prudent financially that the new manager at least considers that shape, to avoid the need for a complete overhaul of the Bramall Lane playing staff.
Oostende, who were second bottom of the table when the Pro League was suspended due to the Covid-19 crisis last season, have been transformed under Blessin’s stewardship and hammered Standard Liège 6-2 on Saturday.
United want to pursue a more international approach to recruitment in the post-Wilder era as they look to make more use of the United World project which includes Beerschot, Kerala United, Chateauroux, Al-Hilal United and United themselves.
Blessin's Oostende squad is composed of players from 11 different countries, including Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“Since January I have been building the team for next season with CEO Gauthier Ganaye,” Blessin added, speaking to VoetbalPrimeur.
“I don't just do that. We're looking for replacements in case Arthur Theate leaves, or Jack Hendry, or Fashion Sakala. I really enjoy working here. And there were no concrete offers until now.”