How events at the top will impact upon Sheffield United's planning for pre-season
Sheffield United have yet to finalise their pre-season schedule, with the club minded to delay finalising a list venues and opponents until they are closer to appointing a new manager.
The Star understands that Chris Wilder whose five year reign at Bramall Lane came to an end last week, had proposed two potential destinations for a summer training camp which were both being considered by United’s board.
Although these will still be considered, several sources have indicated that officials behind the scenes would prefer to receive input from his eventual replacement before making a binding choice. However, they recognise an executive decision might need to be reached if the selection process is delayed. Numerous expressions of interest in the vacancy, which was created when Wilder and United parted company by mutual consent on Friday, are believed to have been received by those tasked with drawing-up a shortlist.
Destined to be relegated from the Premier League - they enter this weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final against Chelsea 14 points adrift of safety at the bottom of the table - United are likely to consider inviting at least one overseas team to South Yorkshire for a showpiece friendly to conclude their preparations for the new Championship campaign.
However, identifying a site for what is expected to be a week long warm weather camp sometime in July is thought to be their main priority at present.
Having based his squad in Vale de Lobo, Portugal, for the past two years, Wilder asked United’s hierarchy to arrange a stay in Evian, on the shore of Lake Geneva, ahead of the present campaign before travel restrictions imposed because of the Covid-19 pandemic forced them to visit Oriam, Scotland’s high performance training centre near Edinburgh, instead.
United were scheduled to stay at the palatial Hotel Royal, which has previously played host to Liverpool and the German national team, in the French spa town. The imminent loss of their top-flight status might make the costs associated with resurrecting that trip prohibitive for United, as they begin laying the groundwork for their return to the English Football League.
Although HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and members of United’s owners inner circle are still at the very early stages of identifying Wilder’s successor, they could begin gauging responses to some proposed locations when they begin private talks with those vying to replace the 53-year-old, who twice led United to promotion after taking charge in May 2016.
By doing so, they would hope to avoid a repeat of the situation Wilder stepped into following Nigel Adkins’ exit, when he is known to have been dismayed by the calibre of opposition United faced during a visit to La Manga. With the itinerary being finalised in haste, his squad found themselves meeting a Select XI drawn largely from regional teams in the Spanish region of Murcia because many of the professional sides also based there at the time had no room on their schedules to sandwich in an extra game.