Former Sheffield United midfielder Sam Wedgbury has slammed his former manager Kevin Blackwell. Wedgbury spent four seasons at Sheffield United as a youngster but berated Blackwell stating he was "awful with the young lads" and accused Blackwell, who is now assistant manager at Championship side Middlesbrough, as "basically bullying" the players while he was manager at Sheffield United.
Image credit: Manchester Evening News
Sam Wedgbury, has not been the only player to come and out and speak negatively about Kevin Blackwell's management ability and style. Speaking on The Claret & Blue Podcast, Lee Hendrie stated that "he (Blackwell) was one of the worst managers I have ever, ever been under". Jordan Stewart, speaking on the Undr The Cosh podcast, mentioned that Blackwell's team talks were "more angry than constructive and normally that would involve confrontation with a player". Stewart also mentioned that he could understand why many players would have had an issue with Kevin Blackwell as he did "rub people up the wrong way".
Sam Wedgbury, now 31 years of age, signed for Sheffield United as a 16 year old back in 2006, with the Blades plying their trade in the English Championship. Speaking to the Undr The Cosh podcast, Wedgbury mentioned that when signing for the club from Non-League side Worcester City, Wedgbury's parents were promised that he "would be training with the first team every day". Unfortunately for Wedgbury, this wasn't the case but did feature regularly for the reserve and youth sides.
When signing for the club, Neil Warnock was manager of Sheffield United, with the side gaining promotion to the Premier League in the season that Wedgbury joined the club. Wedgbury was loaned back to Worcester City for the 2007/08 season and on his return to the club, Warnock had left and Kevin Blackwell was now the first team manager. Wedgbury went on to spent two more loan spells away from the club at Hungarian side Ferencvaros and English Conference side side Mansfield Town.
Sam Wedgbury spent his last season at Sheffield United under management of Kevin Blackwell. Wedgbury appeared distinctly unimpressed by Blackwell's management and training methods. Wedgbury stated that Blackwell "was awful with the young lads" going on to state that the treatment by Blackwell "broke me", stating he "didn't have a good experience as a young lad because you just want to enjoy it". Wedgbury described how Blackwell would have the staff "hammering" Wedgbury during training, even though Wedgbury feels "he did nothing wrong". Wedgbury revealed that he was told by a Sheffield United staff member that Kevin Blackwell had instructed his staff to "get on the young lads".
In comparison, Wedgbury praised the late Gary Speed telling the Undr The Cosh Podcast, that he was "unbelievable" with the younger Sheffield United players. Wedgbury explained that it was during the time that Gary Speed "was looking to get into coaching" and how Speed would take Sam Wedgbury, Matt Lowton and Ched Evans for shooting practice after training. "What a bloke he was" Wedgbury remarked on his former teammate. Gary Speed went on to manage Sheffield United and Wales before Speed's tragic passing in 2011, aged 42.
In 2010, Kevin Blackwell released Sam Wedgbury from his contract with the youngster never appearing for the Sheffield United first team. Unfortunately for Wedgbury, after signing for League Two side Macclesfield Town, Wedgbury revealed that he had received a phonecall from Gary Speed, who was the new Sheffield United manager. Wedgbury revealed that Gary Speed was prepared to offer him a new one-year deal with Sheffield United however, as Wedgbury had already signed terms with Macclesfield Town, this did not come into fruition, leaving Wedgbury "devastated".
Sam Wedgbury, went on to make 100 appearances for Macclesfield Town before signing for League One side Stevenage however failed to hold down a starting berth. After leaving Stevenage, Wedgbury signed for Conference National side Forest Green and spent three successful seasons at the club. Wedgbury went on to spend the 2017/18 season at Conference side Wrexham before signing for Chesterfield at the start of the 2018/19 season. In June 2020, it was announced that Sam Wedgbury would be leaving Chesterfield, making him a free agent after his contract came to an end.
After his time as Sheffield United manager, Kevin Blackwell only went on to hold one other managerial position. Blackwell spent just over a year at Bury in 2012 before being sacked. Since then, Blackwell has held a number of different roles such as being Technical Director at Crystal Palace, however he has now reverted to being an Assistant Manager under Neil Warnock. Blackwell has been Warnock's assistant previously at Sheffield United, Rotherham United, Cardiff City and now Middlesbrough.
If you would like to listen to the full Undr The Cosh podcast with Sam Wedgbury then please click on the link below. The Undr The Cosh podcast is a football podcast hosted by former professional footballers Jon Parkin and Chris Brown.
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