Phil Parkinson bolstered his reputation with two superb cup runs over three seasons with Bradford City and is one of the main names in the frame for the Blades role.
Preferred formation: 4-4-2
Overall: P502 W186 (37%) D151 (30%) L165 (33%)
Colchester: P154 W60 (39%) D48 (31%) L46 (30%)
Hull: P22 W4 (18%) D5 (23%) L13 (59%)
Charlton: P108 W39 (36%) D36 (33%) L33 (31%)
Bradford: P218 W83 (38%) D62 (28%) L73 (34%)
He’s done a superb job with Bradford City and not just with the two brilliant cup runs that have seen him compared to departed Blades boss Nigel Clough.
The Bantams were at their lowest ebb when Parkinson took over, with the unthinkable prospect of relegation from the Football League looking distinctly possible as their post-Premier League plummet continued.
But he provided a steadying hand, securing survival in his first season before masterminding the rise back to League One via the play-offs in his second term.
He was at the helm for two incredible cup runs, to the League Cup final and FA Cup quarter-finals with top flight sides Wigan, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea and Sunderland knocked out en route.
Though Bradford fell off after a strong start in their first season back in League One in 2013/14, he deserves plenty of credit for the solid play-off push last season. In a strong pack of would-be top six finishers, the Bantams held their own.
Much of Parkinson’s success has been done on small budget, bolstered with funds he helped generate with the cup runs. Such abilities are likely to be an important factor with the new United manager expected to work with largely the same squad Clough had last season.
Parkinson also has experience of winning promotion from League One, having guided Colchester to a second placed finish in 2006 before leaving to take over at Hull City.
With Clough’s style of football dismissed as negative, how much of an upgrade Parkinson’s brand would be in that field is questionable. His Bradford side have been criticised for their direct style of play, despite it being a major reason for their cup success. This would not only be a potential issue on aesthetic terms, but also practically.
The squad that Clough constructed is hardly built for physical, direct football. And with the new boss set to be given the directive of working with much the same personnel as Clough, it would require a considerable change of tact from Parkinson to be successful. Such a reputation can also be damaging when it comes to convincing top flight clubs to send players out on loan.
There is also the unknown of Parkinson’s ability to work at the next level. The Blades board will surely be looking for stability and will likely expect the man who takes them up from League One to lead them in the Championship. His spell at Hull in the second tier - and a similar sized club to the Blades - was a failure.
And there is the obvious issue of profile. It is fair to say that plenty of Unitedites would be looking for a bigger ‘name’ than Parkinson. How welcomed his appointment would be is another questionable factor.
Other names in the frame