Alan Biggs: Stu gets his coat and says no

Former Millwall manager Kenny Jackett.
Former Millwall manager Kenny Jackett.

Sheffield United are an easy target right now.

As I write, Kenny Jackett is the one known candidate in a narrower field likely to be hailed as a coup by fans.

But one accusation nobody can level is a lack of honesty, considering that being up front cost the club their favoured choice of new boss.

Presumably Stuart McCall heard two alarm bells jangling as he deliberated on moving from Motherwell.

One, a much reduced budget. Two, an undiluted demand for promotion next season.

If those don’t appear to add up to a winning formula then that is a true indication of the size of the task.

Maybe McCall also noted the Blades’ “Axe Factor.”

Seven men, including vacancy candidate Chris Morgan, have variously taken charge since then coach McCall exited Bramall Lane along with Neil Warnock in 2007 - of whom Bryan Robson, Kevin Blackwell, Micky Adams and Danny Wilson were sacked.

That’s a very poor job advertisement, especially as the sudden timing of the last dismissal meant that Wilson (ideal for current demands in other circumstances) did not actually fail to win promotion and might still have done so.

So McCall’s decision, while surprising, was understandable.

But you detect a starting point for United’s recovery in that they are completely out of what might be called denial.

Many a football manager has been enticed by a falsely glossy brochure that turns into a rag.

Yet there is no pretence from United about what will be a very tough, if not hazardous, undertaking.

The new man will be paid less for starters.

Does that call for a further biting of the bullet? Setting a course and sticking to it, minimum three years?

Among runners as per yesterday: Morgan, Gareth Southgate, Glyn Hodges, Graham Arnold... and Jackett, whose promotions at Swansea and Millwall make him the stand-out man by a mile.

But could he be lured?

Whatever, United remain a club with good values at heart, not least the commitment to affordable admission prices for their fans.

And, as ever, it will be a great job for the man who gets it right.

It’s not always been easy for players to put something aside for a rainy day

Turns out former Sheffield United and England keeper Alan Hodgkinson was a campaigner for the abolition of football’s “maximum wage”, leading to an eventual explosion in earnings at the top.

Also revealed in Hodgy’s autobiography is that United’s initial response back in 1961 was to retain their basic salary structure, meaning Alan earned just £20 a week.

But he recalls a more radical shift across the city where Sheffield Wednesday paid a basic of £30 (double the national average), rising to up to £90 under a generous bonus scheme.

Yet even that top whack figure (six times the national average) pales beside huge six figure weekly earnings today that are hundreds of times more than the rest of us.

Nothing, for me, can ever justify that moral obscenity.

But here’s the other side of the coin from a time when the balance was equally wrong.

After Hodgy’s Blades won promotion to the top flight in 1961 the players were promised “something for a rainy day” by the club.

Subsequently they were each presented with a raincoat and a barometer!

Double joy for school

A Sheffield school already has its sports hall named after Jess Ennis.

What is it going to do about Joe Root?

Seems incredible that two of the nation’s sporting heroes attended the same school in the city - and even simultaneously for a time.

As the father of kids who were their contemporaries as pupils at King Ecgbert’s, I find it just as amazing.

Not that Jess and Joe didn’t serve notice of their talent - they monopolised sports presentation evenings.

But what were the odds against either achieving stardom, let alone both?

Root’s maiden Test century on his home ground of Headingley was the latest proud moment of what seems sure to be many more in the Jess and Joe show.

What a summer awaits them both with an Ashes series and World Championships to look forward to.