ONLY in Sheffield. Yes, only in Sheffield could possibly the most iconic figure either side of the football divide since the turn of the century leave the city to develop his career and merit just three paragraphs in the local newspaper beginning with the word ‘Meanwhile,’.
Chris Morgan, 38, long regarded as the embodiment of what Sheffield United are all about before their fall from grace, joined Chesterfield as first team coach at the end of 2015. The move ended an illustrious Bramall Lane career spanning 12 years and 247 league appearances (277 including the FA and League Cups).
During that time the uncompromising Barnsley-born central defender, signed by Neil Warnock in 2003, skippered United to promotion and the Premier League. On two occasions he has stepped into the breach as caretaker manager. Strength of character and respected by all making him the only choice.
Current boss Nigel Adkins acknowledged: “Chris is a legend at this football club.” A legend indeed, for very different reasons, alongside the names of Alan Woodward, Tony Currie and Alan Hodgkinson.
He wasn’t in any way an exponent of the beautiful game as they were, but most who likes me have been privileged to have watched them all, will surely agree that his contribution was just as important. A view endorsed by the more than 12,000 supporters in pre-season who watched Morgan’s testimonial match against Newcastle at the Lane. A man regularly touted as a future United boss.
BARELY A MENTION
In proper football cities like Sheffield the departure of such a talisman who has aided the careers of England centre-backs and former team-mates Phil Jagielka and Gary Cahill, should be big news. Not so at the York Street HQ of The Star where Morgan’s exit barely merited a mention. Eighty-three words in fact. And media onlookers wonder why Johnston Press which owns Sheffield Newspapers, closed 18 publications across the UK in 2015 in an effort to stabilise financial decline due to plummeting circulation.
It would seem there was not even a heads-up of the news for the paper that employs two people who are supposed to cultivate contacts and have inside knowledge of the Blades and Chesterfield.
Morgan’s move to Chesterfield, gleaned from a statement on United’s website, was not even deemed important enough by the sports desk to be worth a headline, instead being tagged onto the end of a meaningless story quoting Adkins under the banner ‘Blades backed to get even stronger’ two days before a 3-2 home defeat against promotion rivals Peterborough.
Announcing his retirement as a player in the summer of 2012 after failing to overcome a serious knee injury in 2010, Morgan made no secret of his managerial ambitions.
That quickly became self evident in the way he began his coaching career managing United’s Under-21s, a role in which he re-enforced his reputation and showed a willingness, surprising some, to embrace progressive methods and modern man management skills.
Little surprise then that he reformed his partnership with friend and former United manager Danny Wilson following his recent appointment as replacement for Dean Saunders who was sacked by Chesterfield. Morgan, of course, began his career under Wilson at Barnsley.
No mention either in The Star that Morgan applied for the Chesterfield manager’s job and made a big impression on the Spireites. Their only concern was his lack of experience as a No1.
To be fair, the same could probably not be said of those responsible for making Morgan’s departure little more than a space filler. That was plain incompetence.