IT NEVER ceases to baffle me how quotes which would be considered incendiary were they, let’s say, uttered in Manchester, Liverpool or London, are reported in Sheffield as a mere aside and promptly forgotten.
Take, for example, Nigel Clough’s comment prior to Sheffield United’s shocking defeat at Yeovil. “I still think we are a couple of players short but we want to get up there this season. If not, it would be nice to have another crack at it next season.”That begs two obvious questions which the reporter in question appears to have ignored. Why after 18 months in charge and at the critical point of a campaign to end 48 months in the wilderness that is League One, has the Blades boss, by his own admission, failed to assemble a full-strength squad? Is Clough doubtful about his future, as he appears to be saying, should United fail to meet their objective for the fourth time?
It may be “nice” for well paid Nigel to have another “crack” at it but from the perspective of long suffering fans who fund his wages it will be anything but. Not forgetting another year of lost revenue on offer in the Championship.
Imagine Louis van Gaal at Manchester United proclaiming ‘it would be great to qualify for the Champions League but if not we can always have another pop next year’. Or Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers explaining away his team’s under achievement in such a casual fashion.
Remember, Clough’s 17-year career as a manager has produced just one accolade. A Northern Premier League title at Burton Albion way back in 2002. While not denigrating the achievement, it’s not much to show for a man with serious ambition. Since then he has plied his trade with nothing tangible to put on his CV other than work ethic.
Hard work and dedication should be a given for any self respecting manager at Bramall Lane. What United need is a winner. If that man finds himself being interviewed for the post in a few weeks' time, I suspect he would regard 13 years of doing the job without promotion or silverware as failure.
Sheffield United is not a project to be fashioned in its own good time. Not if the club wants 19,000 people to continue regularly passing through the turnstiles.
Time is of the essence but from the way he talks it doesn’t appear anyone has told Nigel.