New man insists Blades are poised for success

Outlining future: Julian Winter tells James Shield of his plans for United.              Picture: SARAH WASHBOURN
Outlining future: Julian Winter tells James Shield of his plans for United. Picture: SARAH WASHBOURN
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JULIAN Winter’s first job at Sheffield United is to improve the quality of coffee.

“The stuff out of that machine is terrible,” he said before our meeting yesterday. “That’s definitely going to have to change.”

His second – and arguably most pressing – concern will be to ensure Sheffield United comply with new financial regulations which are shortly being rolled-out across the entire Football League.

Winter, who officially introduced himself as the club’s new chief executive during an informal gathering with the press, used the hour long briefing to argue Bramall Lane should view UEFA’s Fair Play ethos as an opportunity rather than obstacle to success.

“I don’t think we should be afraid of them at all,” Winter insisted. “Why should we be?

“Here at Sheffield United, with the support base and facilities at our disposal, we have a base that almost everyone else in League One would absolutely love to have.

“Plenty in the Championship too.

“So, if you look at the framework everyone is going to have to abide by soon, I actually think they can be a good thing for us.

“They can be an advantage and not a hindrance.”

Winter, aged 46, previously held the same role at Watford where, nearly two years ago, he helped stave-off the threat of administration caused by some injudicious spending following their relegation from the Premier League.

With United and the rest of their divisional rivals agreeing to adopt aspects of the Salary Cost Management Protocol scheme from the start of the 2012/13 campaign, Danny Wilson’s budget will inevitably be reduced.

Winter, a former professional footballer, must forge strong relationships in both the bootroom and the boardroom to guarantee the process is a success.

“I do think it helps that I’ve played the game, albeit not very well, before,” he said.

“It gives me a feel for the game and an understanding, hopefully, of how certain decisions might impact on that side of things.

“Fans have a feel for the game too.

“It’s all about relationships.

“Obviously one of the most important ones I hope to have is with the owner (Kevin McCabe) because, ultimately, he sets the direction of the club.”

“He’s already set his ideals down,” added Winter.

“He’s a responsible and committed owner, wants a sustainable football club, a successful club living within its means and one that is successful in terms of developing players and results.”

United are known to have canvassed opinion from a wide variety of sources before identifying Winter as the ideal candidate to replace Trevor Birch.

Having previously headed Sheffield Wednesday’s community trust programme, his vision also includes building links with groups beyond the confines of professional sport although “the core always must be the team.”

“This is a great club with great potential,” continued Winter.

“Of course there is lots of work to do but the great thing here is that we have an infrastructure that hardly needs anything doing to it.

“Which means we can focus our energies and attention on exploiting that potential without other unwanted distraction.”

With the transfer window not due to re-open again until January, United could be forced to delay the majority of their restructuring until the summer.

By which time they hope to be celebrating promotion having climbed to second in the League One table after the nine games.

“Being responsible off the pitch and performing on it are not exclusive,” said Winter.