Oostende coach Alexander Blessin breaks silence over Sheffield United links

Alexander Blessin, the KV Oostende coach heavily linked with being the next Sheffield United manager, insists he is only focusing on his work in Belgium after breaking his silence on reports linking him with Bramall Lane.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 11:48 am
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 11:55 am

Blessin emerged as one of the favoured candidates to succeed Chris Wilder as United manager, after The Star revealed recently that the Bramall Lane hierarchy were exploring options in Belgium.

Jan van Winckel, United owner Prince Abdullah’s defacto director of football, is from Belgium and is on the board of Beerschot, one of Oostende’s rivals in the Pro League there and United’s sister club under the United World umbrella.

Under Blessin, Oostende have been transformed from relegation candidates and the German has earned rave reviews for his style of play, which sees his side press relentlessly.

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That, and his ability to work with young players on a budget, has seen him earmarked as a candidate for the United job, even if potential post-Brexit rules may yet scupper the move.

And Blessin, asked about the interest from the Blades ahead of Oostende’s clash against Cercle Brugge, which ended 1-1 and sealed Oostende’s place in the play-offs, told Het Nieuwsblad: “If you do it right, there is always interest.

“Still, I only focus on the match against Cercle.

Oostende's head coach Alexander Blessin is a managerial target of Sheffield United (Photo by VIRGINIE LEFOUR/BELGA MAG/AFP via Getty Images)

“It makes no sense to draw up a master or future plan as a coach. You can live much better today and now.”

United were officially relegated from the Premier League on Saturday evening, when a 1-0 defeat away at Wolves left them 19 points adrift of safety with only six matches of the season remaining.

But any hopes of Blessin leading them in the Championship will be complicated by post-Brexit employment guidelines.

To obtain a necessary GBE, or Governing Body Endorsement, Blessin must have worked as a manager in a “top league” for two consecutive years or three of the previous five.

Although a former youth coach at RB Leipzig, this is former policeman Blessin’s first year as a manager – meaning United may be forced to look for a loophole, or an appeal, if they wish to appoint him as their first permanent foreign manager.