Sheffield United: Blades chairman wants Clough to be boss in 20 years

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough will be granted the opportunity to create a lasting legacy at Bramall Lane, Jim Phipps has told The Star.

And crucially Phipps, the League One club’s co-chairman, assured the former England international his job is safe even if United fail to reach the Championship next season.

Clough, who parted company with Derby County a year ago, has won over 50 per cent of his matches since being appointed in October and reached the FA Cup semi-finals last term.

Phipps, principal advisor to United’s co-owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, said: “There has been nothing to cause us to think we don’t have the right people on board. Results over the course of the year, after Nigel came in, have been excellent.

“We have a good, long-term solution in hand. What we have to do is give him the time and resources and my guess is we’ll be smiling, collecting a promotion cheque and dealing with next stage of investment.”

Phipps, describing English football’s propensity for sacking managers as a “curse on the sport”, added: “Someone asked me what would happen if we don’t go up (this season). My answer was I’ll probably be sat in California licking my wounds but, joking aside, Nigel’s place is secure.

“We brought him in knowing he only had two clubs (Burton Albion and Derby) in something like 15 years. He can build a club organically.

“Your football manager is going to define, in some respects, the health of your academy. If they think they are going to be in and out in a year then the first team is their only focus and you can’t blame them for that.

“What we need is a top to bottom club which is unified from youngest youth team all the way through to the first team squad.

“We’ve got a manager which makes us comfortable going to sleep at night. He’s never proposed anything crazy.

“His response to failure is never to point the finger, he just gets on with things.

“I’d be tickled pink if, in 20 years, he was still with us. Yes, Nigel is in a performance related business, like I am. But there is nothing to suggest he is not going to perform.”

Phipps, who was speaking before goals from Michael Higdon and Jamie Murphy saw United beat Gillingham 2-1, also confirmed that “no decision” has been taken on whether Ched Evans will return to the club when he is released from prison next month.

Evans was convicted of rape in 2012 but continues to protest his innocence.

“We’ve made some press statements on this in the past which amount to saying very little because we haven’t made a decision and are not ready to address the issue or say anything more on it at the moment,” Phipps said. “We acknowledge its very difficult issue and we’re still puzzling through it.”

Phipps added: “We are not giving a timeframe. We acknowledge there are different sides on this and we feel them ourselves because we are no different from anyone else.”