Sheffield United: Blades legend backs his former club’s judgement

Sheffield United legend Alan Hodgkinson MBE
Sheffield United legend Alan Hodgkinson MBE

After five weeks, around fifty applicants and numerous interviews, Sheffield United have finally got their man, writes James Shield.

As expected David Weir was yesterday unveiled as Danny Wilson’s replacement having spent the past 48 hours applying the finishing touches to his contract.

Weir, who two seasons ago spent a month training with United before accepting a position on Everton’s backroom staff, knows many of the players he is set to inherit from the former Northern Ireland international.

But having elected not to follow mentor and compatriot David Moyes to Old Trafford, the 43-year-old Scot is clearly determined to carve his own niche in the game.

Weir, according to United legend Alan Hodgkinson MBE, will arrive at Bramall Lane without any preconceived ideas but under no illusions about what he wants to achieve.

“David is very unassuming,” Hodgkinson, who worked with Weir at both Scotland and Glasgow Rangers, said. “But he’s very driven and focused about delivering success.

“You don’t survive for as long as he has in football without being dedicated and that, I imagine, is one of the qualities he will bring to this role.

“David always gave 100 per cent as a player and was someone you knew you could rely on.

“That’s why I know he will do whatever it takes to bring to good times back to Sheffield United. He won’t leave a stone unturned.”

Weir, who started his career with Falkirk before heading to Goodison Park via Heart of Midlothian, is believed to have featured on the list of potential targets United drew-up after parting company with Wilson. However, it was only after deciding to become a manager in his own right having spent 16 months coaching Everton’s reserve and academy teams that Bramall Lane’s hierarchy made their move.

Weir, who represented Rangers at Champions League level and was later inducted into the Ibrox Hall of Fame, is believed to have met United’s board of directors on Friday morning; less than 24 hours after Keith Curle and Michael Appleton had also visited their temporary London HQ.

The vision he outlined clearly resonated with owner Kevin McCabe and his staff because later that afternoon talks aimed at securing his services were already in progress.

Chris Morgan, who took charge of United on a temporary basis following Wilson’s exit, impressed during discussions with the League One club’s selection panel. Likewise his former team mate Robert Page. But Weir’s references, combined with his philosophy and contacts book, convinced McCabe, chief executive Julian Winter and chairman David Green to appoint the 69 cap veteran.

Hodgkinson, who made nearly 700 appearances for United after making his debut in 1954, became a goalkeeping coach at Rangers having previously worked with Scotland’s international team.

“In my view, David is an excellent choice,” he said. “When people like Craig Brown and Walter Smith champion him, that tells you everything you need to know.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1