No director of football claim raises a question mark about Alan Knill's offer from Sheffield United

Sheffield United appear poised to confirm Alan Knill has left Bramall Lane following HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s insistence that the club will not appoint a director of football next season.

By James Shield
Thursday, 25th March 2021, 4:00 pm

Knill, who served as Chris Wilder’s assistant before the manager’s departure earlier this month, is understood to have been offered the job - or similarly worded role - before last weekend’s FA Cup tie at Chelsea; subsequently being granted permission to miss the quarter-final as he considered his options.

But during an interview designed to give his take on events during the build-up to Wilder’s exit, Prince Abdullah stated “There will be no director of football next season, or the season after.”

Despite raising questions about why Knill was offered the post, or highlighting a misunderstanding about the exact nature of any planned reshuffle behind the scenes, that will be interpreted as a signal the 56-year-old is set to follow Wilder through the exit door. The subject of Knill was not raised by either the Saudi or the media rights-holder he spoke to when the story was published yesterday.

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With Paul Heckingbottom placed in caretaker charge until the end of a campaign which is expected to see United relegated from the Premier League - two seasons after they achieved the second of their two promotions under Wilder - Prince Abdullah’s comments provide an insight into how the next man at the helm will be expected to operate, with a greater emphasis being placed on cooperation between the board and the boot room when it comes to identifying transfer targets.

With Prince Abdullah expanding his United World project - Chateauroux recently being added to a portfolio which also includes Kerala United, Al-Hilal United, Beerschot and of course United themselves - they will also be encouraged to tap into overseas markets more.

Expanding United’s horizons should prove beneficial. But, given the inflation football has experienced abroad, Wilder’s replacement will only be able to source genuine bargains if an extensive scouting network is placed at their disposal.

“I needed recruitment to change and Chris to be more open minded,” Prince Abdullah said.

Alan Knill is thought to have turned down the chance to become Sheffield United's director of football: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

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Prince Abdullah, Sheffield United's owner (second right) and former manager Chris Wilder (second left): Simon Bellis/Sportimage