Sheffield United: If real first impressions count then engaging Adkins is off to a flyer

Nigel Adkins at Bramall Lane
Nigel Adkins at Bramall Lane
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They’ll always say the right things, new managers. Can you think of a press conference announcing a new encumbent to the hot-seat where the new man at the helm has made an absolute mess of it?

These types of gatherings generally tend to throw up a fresh-faced manager, positively full of vigour and enthusiasm, ready to take on the world.

So when Nigel Adkins was unveiled last week, we all got what we expected - talking up the club, its potential, the fans, the history...all boxes ticked.

However, yesterday at Bramall Lane, Adkins was different. The former Scunthorpe United, Southampton and Reading manager had invited members of the local media to a less formal meeting. A chat, a relaxed talk, offering his views, opinions, what he wants to do, how he wants to do it.

Refreshing doesn’t begin to cover it, not least because the engagement came 24 hours after, up in Newcastle (again), most of the media, all in fact bar a select couple of outlets, had been denied the opportunity to hear what their new manager Steve McClaren, had to say.

The cynic might say Adkins was trying to get the press ‘onside’, but it didn’t feel that way. It was a genuine attempt by a man at a new club, a new city and new surroundings wanting to get to know who he will be meeting on a day-to-day basis.

Nigel Adkins meets the media at Bramall Lane

Nigel Adkins meets the media at Bramall Lane

It was as if he realised himself that the press conference unveiling was a paint-by-numbers exercise that never really encapsulated what he was about.

So what is he about? What is he like?

Of course it’s hard to really tell, given we spent merely an hour in the Blades boardroom. But what came across was the word that a former player of his had used in describing him last week. That Chris Morgan used, too, this week...honesty.

He was open and also enquiring. He wanted to know how things worked, as if he wants to immerse himself in everything associated with Sheffield United Football Club. It was hard not to be impressed. Sharply dressed in a blue suit, intelligent looking and in speaking (at one point he quoted Sun Tzu’s The Art of War).

Adkins is genuinely engaging. He’s interesting and gives off an aura of a man you want to listen to. And you get the impression that United’s players will want to do that too. Time will tell if it’s enough, but Adkins, if first impressions are anything to go by, has got off to a flyer.

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