Kevin McCabe will provide Chris Wilder with ‘structural’ support after overseeing his appointment as Sheffield United manager.
McCabe, the League One club’s co-owner, appears set to take a more hands-on role at Bramall Lane next term with new chief executive Stephen Bettis also joining its board of directors.
Speaking soon after Wilder’s arrival from Northampton Town, where he won the League Two title last season, McCabe acknowledged a series of strategic errors had contributed to United’s disappointing performances under the 48-year-old’s predecessor Nigel Adkins.
With recruitment cited as a particular area of concern, McCabe said: “When you are in the position of an owner, at many parts of the season, things are churning over in your own mind about what’s right for the club and what’s right for the team.
“You think are there times when I need to spend more time with the manager, either helping him or outlining what we need to do structurally?”
Despite reporting the highest player expenditure figures in the division, United parted company with Adkins after finishing 11th in the table; 21 points behind eventual champions Wigan Athletic. Wilder’s first act after being unveiled was to release 10 and transfer list another seven members of the first team squad he inherited from Adkins with captain Jay McEveley and Bob Harris among those to depart.
With David Edgar, Alex Baptiste and Conor Sammon also leaving at the end of their respective loan agreements, Billy Sharp was the only player signed by Adkins that Wilder has chosen to retain.
Although McCabe is thought to have been instrumental in pushing Wilder’s candidacy, fellow co-owner HRH Prince Abdullah Bin Mosaad Abdulaziz Al Saud sanctioned the change after studying his work at Sixfields. Wilder, who rejected approaches from Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic and Bolton Wanderers in order to take charge of the club he previously represented as a player, was subsequently invited to a private audience with Prince Abdullah who now serves as Saudi Arabia’s General President of Youth Welfare.
His advocacy meant that no other candidates were interviewed for the vacancy created by Adkins’ departure on May 12.
Earlier this month, McCabe expressed his frustration at United’s lack of rigor when vetting potential new recruits following a series of expensive mistakes in the transfer market. Although a technical board, which includes representatives from the Steelphalt Academy, has been established to help remedy the problem, it is viewed as an informational resource. Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill will retain full responsibility for first team affairs.
“Chris knows this club,” McCabe said. “But, first and foremost, he is a damn good manager. He’s shown that.”