Deadbat’s end of term report continues with an assessment of the chairman, Kevin McCabe.
In my time as a United fan, Kevin McCabe is easily the best chairman we have ever had.
He has turned us into a proper club with a stadium to be proud of, complete with an hotel, superb training facilities, the academy, the links with other clubs and the way he fought the Tevez affair and won.
He is an astute businessman who has made sure we have not gone down the route of many other clubs who have dropped out of the Premier League. We have the stability and organisation we never had before, and in comparison with our city neighbours we are streets ahead in customer service, ticketing, facilities and professionalism.
We are comfortably the strongest club in Yorkshire.
However, there have been some major flaws in McCabe’s and the Board’s decisions in recent years. We had a golden opportunity to consolidate as a Premier League club, but that fateful rainy day in May against Wigan saw the start of the downward spiral.
With better management and boardroom decisions, we could have bounced back quickly. The start came with the appointment of Bryan Robson, and ‘Turry’ Robinson’s chairmanship. These two set the club back with stupid financial decisions and poor player recruitment (ageing players on high wages).
McCabe had a chance to change things last year when Kevin Blackwell offered to stand down; this season probably shows he should have shook the manager’s hand and looked for a fresh replacement.
However, he also wanted someone who could carry on cutting the wage bill while keeping United competitive. For all his critics, Blackwell has been able to achieve these two apparently conflicting aims.
The sales of the two Kyles were inevitable, and no club in the Championship would have turned down the money offered, but could have been better managed - McCabe’s comments about putting “the shutters down” a week before the players were sold springs to mind. And the season-long loan and return to Spurs of Walker contrasts poorly with that of Billy Sharp, who could not be recalled.
The chairman did keep giving the manager funds to bring loan players in, but for the most part, the squad was being cut further. McCabe’s obsession with the international partner clubs continues to rankle fans when nothing has materialised in terms of players or funds, and his foiled dream to bring World Cup football to the Lane also annoyed some.
Most supporters want more attention on the manager and the first-team squad and still feel this is not happening. Whilst other aspects of the club have come on leaps and bounds, the team is mediocre and the club is no closer to being a top-10 Premier League team than they were when McCabe took the helm over 10 years ago.
It is difficult to see McCabe putting more funds in, and the days of him throwing cash on big signings seem to be at an end. The poor signings last summer mean he will be more careful with his money, especially if Blackwell stays, though the chairman’s comments at recent forums about the playing style and mistakes over player recruitment means the manager’s future is not quite as secure as it once was.
McCabe still seems passionate enough, but the appointment of Trevor Birch, a man known for brokering takeovers, suggests an exit strategy. Maybe a takeover may be happening sooner than we think, which would be ironic considering the difficulties other clubs are having attracting investment.
What happens over the summer will be key. If Blackwell stays, McCabe will know that a poor start to the next campaign will see the manager departing one way or another. So does he back him or give him little to spend and watch the inevitable happen?
The latter seems more likely and if so, maybe a managerial change would make more sense now rather than waiting till the autumn.