Alan Biggs: Weir must be given time to show he’s capable of step up

New Blades boss David Weir
New Blades boss David Weir

What might have seemed a two-month muddle has actually delivered two powerful reasons why I think Sheffield United can have a winning formula.

Turning “can” into “will” depends on just one thing... sticking to it. The two reasons are a combination of a widely acclaimed choice of new manager, perhaps the most popular of recent times, and the lowest level of crowd expectation in just as long.

Together, they give David Weir a strong chance of staying power. Of itself, a three-year contract means nothing. Danny Wilson had one, but effectively had only one shot at succeeding.

Now United must exploit the latitude from fans that will come from promoting young talent to ensure the club’s sixth “permanent” boss in seven years does not fall victim to short-term thinking.

Yes, promotion has to be the aim but, on a shrunken budget and in the presence of Wolves, Coventry and Bristol City, League One will be hard to escape in Weir’s first season. Accepting that is fundamental to maximising what I feel can prove an excellent long-term appointment.

I also liked chief executive Julian Winter’s explanation of a “new culture” in the club, saying the “benefactor model” - under which the Blades have long been financed by Kevin McCabe - can “create a comfort blanket.” Winter added: “The club has a strong owner but has to operate on a more sustainable level.”

The job of manager must be sustainable too. That is McCabe’s call as, more than likely, was the appointment. Weir is worth lasting faith.

As a former name player who had been interviewed by Everton and was linked to rejoining David Moyes at Manchester United, he was more “sellable” than, say, Rob Page, who also interviewed well. Both lack experience and Page’s was arguably more relevant in his knowledge of the lower leagues.

But United have landed a pedigree person whose references from Moyes, Walter Smith and Craig Brown are impeccable. Weir speaks quietly but persuasively with a streak of steely determination.

His new bosses may need to show the same.

Owls get it right off the pitch as attention turns to improving the front line not the bottom line

What price do you put on a conscience in football these days?

Quite a high one if you are Sheffield Wednesday and maybe now the same is true of Bolton after their U-turn to follow the Owls in refusing to accept sponsorship from a payday loan company.

I understand the offer Wednesday refused was worth 60% ABOVE their expectations from such a source. It is said to have come from QuickQuid, the same firm who then scored with Bolton only to be driven out by a public backlash.

Wednesday’s target from the shirt package is around £250,000. I believe the offer they turned down was for up to £400,000. Except it amounted to more trouble than it was worth, as their Championship rivals were to discover.

For the Owls, it was an ethical stand. Although no-one should ever have to put a price on morals, this was an outstanding example of the way football can eradicate its reputation for knowing the value of nothing except hard cash.

Newcastle’s deal with Wonga is the most notorious in this respect. Good to see that star striker Papiss Cisse, a practicing Muslim, is refusing to wear a shirt bearing on religious and ethical grounds.

Such embarrassments can and should be easily avoided. Football is already accused of fleecing the fans. Climbing into bed with high rate loan companies adds insult to injury.

Perhaps even better than the stand Wednesday took is the fact that nearly everyone knows about it and rightly so. More of the same please. . . because less sometimes adds up to so much more.

As for striker targets, the Kevin Davies interest has hardened, Wolves’ Sylvan Ebanks-Blake still figures and if Dave Jones sweeps the lower leagues then Nahki Wells (26 goals for Bradford) is among those bound to be worth a check.

* Congratulations to Sheffield referee Craig Pawson on being promoted to the £75,000 a year select group of England’s match officials. Craig, 34, impressed on his Premier League bow last season and maintains the city’s proud refereeing traditions in following the likes of Keith Hackett and Uriah Rennie.