- Players recruited by Nigel Adkins and Nigel Clough were not right for Sheffield United
- Dean Hammond’s looks set to play his final match for the club
- Adkins (and Clough) ‘have wasted my money’
- Bramall Lane set for major clear-out no matter what
- Co-chairman Jim Phipps to quit and be replaced by new board appointment, Tareq Hawasli, as Saudi co-owner Prince Abdullah’s representative in Sheffield.
- Technical board set up to to improve standard of players signed because of dismay by what has been allowed to happen previously under former managing director Mal Brannigan.
- Loan signings banned apart from January transfer window
- No-one qualified enough for the role of Blades director of football apart from Sir Alex Ferguson
- Jose Baxter’s days look numbered
- FOOTNOTE: Local media chose to ignore all of the above
A DAMNING verdict on Nigel Adkins’ transfer judgment has left the increasingly isolated Sheffield United manager with the biggest challenge of his 11 months in charge. To convince deeply divided bosses he is fit for the job.
Club co-owner Kevin McCabe delivered a brutally honest assessment designed as a rally call to angry and frustrated fans and encourage season ticket renewals. It may have helped boost early sales to more than 11,000. But it also served to undermine the man he and partner Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud appointed almost a year ago.
It has almost certainly signalled the end of Adkins’ pet project in on-loan signing Dean Hammond and many like him which will come as a public humiliation for the Blades boss should he remain.
Asked if he thought his money had been wasted this season, McCabe answered an emphatic “yes”. He went further by agreeing Adkins’ transfer dealings had been largely a costly failure and that measures have been put in place – a technical board chaired by McCabe’s eldest son Scott – to ensure it would not happen again. Loan signings have been banned and will only be considered in the January transfer window.
This and other damaging revelations – including confirmation of divisions within former manager Nigel Clough’s squad which this website has been a lone voice on insisting – emerged during a public forum with Blades fans at Bramall Lane. A meeting that was totally ignored by local media despite the headline-making news it produced. Only in Sheffield. So ViewFromTheJohnStreet.Com has done their job for them.
This site reported on April 27 from a source within the club that United’s owners were divided about Adkins’ future. McCabe, buoyed by very recent results, believes the manager should be given at least until Autumn before sending him to the job centre. Prince Abdullah wants action now.
That has led to increasing doubts about the way forward and my source, a senior figure, tells me that crowd reaction in what promises to be an uncomfortable final day of the season for red-faced United at Bramall Lane against play-off hopefuls Scunthorpe, will now be a big contributing factor to the immediate outcome.
At the Lane forum McCabe pointedly avoided referring to Adkins when talking of future plans, preferring instead the “the manager”. United midfield man Dean Hammond, on loan from Leicester and whom Adkins cites as a keystone of his squad, believed to be earning £17,000 a week, came under continual criticism. Something not contradicted by the United chief.
In fact McCabe agreed: “We have recruited players who have not been right for the club. Not just particularly this season – there have been some who you have made reference to – but the last two seasons.”
Supporter, Chris, asked: “Do you think your money’s been wasted this year because a lot of fans do.” McCabe replied a succinct “Yes”.
“So with all that backing and seeing the dross he’s [Adkins] brought in as signings,” continued Chris to a round of applause, “are you now in a position where you feel like I can’t sack another manager and that’s the only reason he’s in a job.”
McCabe: “My answer is that loan signings will be prohibited henceforth other than the transfer window in January.” Confusingly he also said “and in the close season up to the end of August” which was understood to mean it was part of McCabe's self-imposed ban. He added: “A lot of the comments on the players we have signed have been loan players haven’t they? Very costly and not very successful for us.” [*Ed. A keen-eyed reader has pointed that rule changes for 2016-17 in accordance with FIFA, prohibit emergency loans once both official transfer windows in August and January have closed.]
In a statement which makes a mockery of goalkeeper George Long’s naive belief that the squad does not need to be overhauled and demonstrates the disconnect that exists between players, their employers and equally frustrated fans, McCabe said: “We do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Not just of this season but of the last two or three seasons of bringing on players who have not been the right ones for Sheffield United and our aims.”
Further challenged, McCabe did try to offer a defence of his and Price Abdullah’s beleaguered appointment, saying: “If we’re speaking openly I don’t think any of you here would have been against Nigel being a bloody good choice as a manager. You find me a better CV.
“If you try and analyse it, and we would be debating it all night, he was probably stuck with far too many players, nonetheless expensive players. You and I as supporters want to believe you can suss that out in a week or a month and have the right-shaped squad within a couple of months of the season starting. It’s not as simple as that.
“When you have so many senior professionals chomping at the bit but maybe not getting games you do get antagonism. You do get these splits in the camp. All sorts of issues behind the scenes that can disrupt the harmony of what a first team manager is trying to do. So that is what Nigel’s had to cope with.
“When he first came he’s bound to have thought everyone of his senior players was great. In practice it is the players who let us down isn’t it? But if you add to that the true professionalism by saying ‘well you shouldn’t have recruited them then’, and that’s where we’ve got it wrong.
“We have recruited players who have not been right for the club. Not particularly this season – there have been some who you have made reference to – but the last two seasons and that is what he’s had to tackle.”
Another fan, who claimed a well supported fanbase was being taken for granted, produced statistics which he said showed that of Danny Wilson’s last season when he had 41 games, 34 we were in a play-off position and he was sacked. Clough’s record was 32/46. United under Adkins, he said, had secured just 10 matches in that position all during the first 15 matches.
“For those who travel week in week out we’ve not looked anywhere near,” he added. “I agree the characters he’s (Adkins) brought in bar one (Billy Sharp) are not taking us anywhere. If we’re going to build a side around the likes of Hammond we’re in a fools land.” McCabe: “I Can’t deny them (statistics) because they’re fact.”
The forum almost descended into ridicule after the suggestion that United lacked know-how and should appoint a “football man” as director of football. An option which McCabe didn’t object to but claimed that apart from Sir Alex Ferguson there was no one qualified.
“It is something we chat about amongst ourselves at Board level,” said McCabe. Adding: “The diligence that we have made on players this is where we have made mistakes. We’ve not been thorough enough.
“The director of football you refer to, actually if I could find somebody I might be nodding my head and saying yes. But they don’t really exist. Look at Derek’s (Dooley’s, the former United chairman) professional peculiarities. He played the game. He was from Sheffield so he understood Sheffield folk. He’d managed. He was quite unique Derek.
“If you look at the people in the industry today the only person who probably has the right qualifications to be director of football is someone like Sir Alex Ferguson. I can’t think of anyone, can you?”
The names of Dave Bassett and Neil Warnock were thrown back at him and were dismissed. “With respect, said McCabe rather bizarrely as even Sir Alex doesn’t reside in Sheffield, “Dave Bassett doesn’t live in Sheffield. With respect Neil doesn’t live in Sheffield.” In response to heckling, he added: “No I don’t, I’m not director of football either.”
McCabe was completely wrong when he claimed that football had changed in the “latter years” of Dooley’s time at the club because of the Bosman ruling which gave players freedom of contract. Bosman came into effect following a decision by the European Court of Justice in December 1995. Dooley, a Sheffield football legend who died in 2008, became chairman in 1999.
In reply to a question from Trevor, who said: “Since Derek Dooley we haven’t had anybody who is a football man, who has been in the game and played the game and really knows what he’s doing. No offence but some of your decisions suggest that sometimes you don’t know what you’re doing.”
McCabe who commendably took the comment on the chin, replied: “Football changed an awful lot during Derek’s latter years believe me. The complexities of footballers contracts, the position of agents representing footballers which is a continuous problem.
“In Derek’s principle days you actually did own your footballer. He was your employer per se who would work for you as if he was working for a firm of builders or a firm of accountants. It changed under the Bosman ruling when there was freedom of contract.”
He added: “Yes, I’ve probably made some bad decisions in years gone by for some of the execs that I’ve employed to do these tasks for me. If I excuse them it’s because the game’s changed as well.”
The absence of McCabe’s co-chairman Jim Phipps and the appointment on Friday of businessman and member of the Young Arab Leaders, Tareq Hawasli, to the Board as representative of Prince Abdullah, a role previously fulfilled by Phipps, confirms what ViewFromTheJohnStreet.Com also exclusively reported in December.
Phipps, who is leaving the club, was just not a man McCabe could get on with. The American’s enthusiasm to engage on social media with United fans, which has been silenced in recent months, was for McCabe at least, a bridge too far.
McCabe also indicated that Jose Baxter, who is suspended after failing the second drug test of his turbulent United career, won’t be on the payroll for much longer.
“It’s the FA who determine what his punishment not Sheffield United,” said McCabe who nonetheless sounded decidedly frustrated by events surrounding Baxter.
“It’s the PFA who are there to protect the player. We’re stuck in the middle. You could say in normal circumstances, if this had happened in a normal company, which the football club is, you’d have fired him for breach of contract.”