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Opinion: Was Sheffield United Chairman Jim Phipps right to address the fans?



Sheffield United, the so called sleeping giant of League One, failed to add any names to their squad during the transfer window, barring one extended loan deal for Leicester City player Dean Hammond.

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United fans were fully expecting certain areas of the squad to be addressed as they continue to struggle to stamp any sort of authority on a playoff or automatic promotion place.

They sit in 7th place in the table, and it seems to be a case of deja vu for United fans as another season of underachieving beckons.

Social media was in meltdown for people searching the #SUFC hashtag, as expectant fans once again saw nobody coming through the door and a plethora of players leaving the Lane.

While most fans recognised the need for outgoings, and many of the players who left were fringe players, it was expected that the Blades would bring some fresh faces in to bolster their play off charge.

A transfer window long pursuit of Fulham defender Dan Burn bore no fruits as they were knocked back with bid after bid, resulting in the defender staying with Fulham and now seemingly only leaving the option of a loan move open.

Not long after the deadline passed, Chairman Jim Phipps tweeted his thoughts on the window, asking for fans’ opinions on how the window had panned out for United.

Now credit where credit is due to the American, he is active on social media and engages with fans frequently, but the question remains, just how wise is it for Phipps to be so active on social media in a time when fans can so easily abuse, demoralise, and belittle a man who is simply put, trying to do his job?

Phipps covered numerous points as to squad shrinking, past failures, and not panic buying, all of which were valid points to an extent.

However, with supposed funds available due to their Saudi Prince co owner, and after making another managerial change in the summer, United were expected to make big changes in both the summer and January windows as they looked to right the wrongs of the past two seasons.

Phipps full statement can be found here, with Phipps inviting fans to openly voice their opinions and even cast a vote so could gauge feedback.

With the statement causing a clamour of replies, over 1800 responses were given by this morning, with over 75% of fans choosing a negative and unsatisfied response towards the Blades January transfer dealings.

With the United Chairman clearly open to fan engagement, it can be seen as a positive and in times of success will almost certainly read well.

However, Phipps has come under great scrutiny this season, and seems to be bearing the load of the entire board through his social media account. Now, while it is easy to say that the Blades attract crowds of around 20,000 and not nearly as many people engage with Phipps online, it is clear to see that news and opinion on social media is bigger than ever when it comes to Sheffield United.

It is important to consider also that Phipps is taking the brunt of any flack from fans just because he is on the platform and putting himself out there. Co owner Kevin McCabe has long been identified by Blades fans as a the pantomime villain, as he continues to take a back seat with operations away from the club, while keeping his 50% stake in the club – a wise move some would say!

Whether what Phipps is doing is correct or not, there is no denying the sour taste it has left in the mouths of many Blades fans, who rightly or wrongly, have lofty expectations for their club.

Past sales of star players have not helped, with fans becoming almost expectant that a big name will be sold for peanuts given the recent sales of Harry Maguire, Jamie Murphy, and Kevin McDonald. Phipps makes a point of this in his statement, calling the retaining of star names a “victory in itself”.

Sheffield United are a club which need to be in the Championship. However there is a difference between needing to be, and deserving to be. Fans sometimes need to realise this, and that no club is entitled to be anywhere based on fan support, stadium size, and history. Its about what the club is doing now.

The fact that their Chairman is trying to explain to fans and keep them firmly in the loop should be seen as a positive, not a negative. Whether or not you agree with him or not, is it really acceptable to openly vilify and abuse your Chairman through social media? Is it really worth it for Phipps to continue with his updates?

There are arguments both ways as to what is best for United, their fans, and their Chairman at the minute, but one thing is for certain, debating over social media is never going to solve anything for the Blades going forward!

Blades fans, what do you think to this? Was Phipps right? What is going so wrong to cause so much anger among fans? Let us know below!

31, From Sheffield. Sheffield United fan. Big follower of all things football related. Love fantasy football, gaming, WWE and more or less any other sport. For information on play off final heartbreak, look no further! Twitter @LWCon86

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Opinion: Was Sheffield United Chairman Jim Phipps right to address the fans?

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