Before I sat down with Micky Adams I briefly met Ched Evans who was on his way to take his dogs for a walk and then literally 2 minutes later the whole squad seemed to appear out of nowhere. Funny that!
After the influx of United players, myself and Adams sat down with a cup of coffee to have a chat. We got straight down to business on the most important topic - the fact we're both from in the Steel City (opposite ends by the way) and what schools we went to. Once that was out of the way we got stuck into how he's settling in as the new man about town.
I suppose football fans don't tend to think how hard it must be coming into a new club with the pressure and expectation from both the club's board and the fans. Well at least with Micky Adams being a Blade born and bred, he has a bit more time to prove himself. We joked that he probably has about 2 weeks more than a non-Sheffield United associated manager!
However Micky was quick to point out: "Regardless of whether I'm a Blades fan or not, I'm a football manager paid to get results and if I don't get results then I'll be sacked."
It makes you see things from a slightly different perspective, especially we he went on to say: "The average life span of a manager in the Championship is 12 months. That shows you how hard it is to achieve our ambitions."
Sheffield United have very high ambitions and although we might not have a big purse at the moment, the club is genuinely working hard to develop and progress the youth academy. I'm not just saying that because they are my team either. When talking to Micky he stated that it was the manager's responsibility to do exactly that and looking after the first team isn't his only job.
In United the structure is there but the one thing that has got to be continually guaranteed is actually bringing some players through. We've seen it with Kyle Walker and Keith Quinn as just a couple examples.
Micky added: "John Pemberton and myself have got to share a philosophy that goes from the first team right into the reserve team and into the youth team. We have to look at a certain type of player that is going to be successful. We all have to train the same way, do all the same things in games in terms of the way we defend and the way we attack and if we can share that philosophy throughout the club then I'm sure we'll get future first team players coming through the academy."
I was very happy when he said that, especially as it had huge comparisons with my Football.co.uk blog about the German model of football and how England can learn from it which I wrote back in October. At least one manager in the country has the right idea! As youth training is something I'm passionate about and with the lack of it in England, I asked him his thoughts on the current situation.
"Less and less English players are coming through the systems and if they are they are getting lost somewhere." said Micky. He continued to say that this was possibly because of the influx of foreign players but academies like Sheffield United's have a responsibility to try and get as many players through as they can to help the England team. Now I don't know about you but that sounds like a good idea to me, especially if more clubs worked in unison with this philosophy.
Enjoying our philosophical conversation, I changed the subject to money - something I've mentioned in previous blogs and how the emphasis on money demands in football riles me something rotten. It was a refreshing change to hear the Blades gaffer's response.
"Money shouldn't be used as a motivational tool at any level. Motivation as a footballer should be that you win games of football and that you are happy coming into work and playing a game that you love."
By this point Micky has convinced me that he's the right man for the job at Sheffield United. I could have had at least another 2 more cups of coffee with him, however I would have been bouncing off the walls and putting the world to rights by then so maybe it was a good idea that I didn't!
He continued: "Nobody is shooting at you, you are not dodging bullets on a front line, you are coming in and working and doing something that you enjoy. That's always got to be the emphasis rather than looking at the money. If you are successful at anything the rewards will come."
My thoughts exactly - see we're nice decent folk us Sheffield lot. After nattering away to Micky for at least half an hour, I was privy to witness the intensity and pressure of the January transfer window for clubs like United. It was so interesting to see how many variables were involved, not just budgets and filling needed positions but the importance of attitude and character, their current fitness level (especially if they have not been in the starting 11 for a team) and their relationship with the fans.
There is still a while left in the transfer window so it will be interesting to see if there's any movement at the Lane but to more immediate matters and the FA Cup this weekend. A tournament I have always loved despite some people's views on its magic being lost.
Sheffield United take on Aston Villa on Saturday and it's definitely not just a Cup game to the Blades. It's going to be tough though as Micky admitted: "I watched them the other night and if someone were to say they were lacking in confidence then I wouldn't believe that. I think they are just unfortunate at the moment."
I'm sorry Villa fans but please can you have just one more weekend of misfortune and give us Blades something to celebrate this weekend. That would be much appreciated.
Micky Adams seems under the usual pressures of a new manager coming into a team that's struggling but he's passionate, determined and believes in the club. And as a Sheffield United fan, and having had the pleasure of meeting him, I'm behind him all the way.
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