Hull City manager Nigel Adkins has insisted he bears Sheffield United no grudges ahead of tomorrow’s meeting between the two clubs at the KCOM Stadium.
But Adkins, who spent a year in charge of United before being sacked 21 months ago, suggested events behind the scenes contributed to his downfall during the East Yorkshire club’s pre-match press conference earlier today.
Reflecting upon his time at Bramall Lane, Adkins said: “It was a great experience. It was a shame it didn’t work out because I met some really good people at Sheffield United. They were in League One and they’d been there for several years so there was a lot of frustration among the supporters.
“All sorts of things were going on behind the scenes. A lot of change. We’ve gone in there and it was a massive group of players. We started out with two out and out wingers, we played a narrow four and then we went with three at the back, which they’re very successful at now.”
Adkins, who returned to the game in December after being appointed by City, continued: “I went in there believing there had to be change and believing that I had time. I had a three-year contract. There was 50 players and we turned it all around. I believe I was the only manager in the January window not to sign a player, we sold everyone. I signed one player in Billy Sharp and the rest were on loan. There was a couple already lined up and they came in.”
Although it is unclear whether that was an attempt to absolve himself of responsibility for the signings of Dean Hammond and Martyn Woolford, who both struggled miserably after arriving on his watch, Adkins said: “It’s great to see there’s stability there. There was split ownership when I was there and they had to sort themselves out. The expectation was massive and I could feel that. The supporters wanted to play as they’re playing now and that’s brilliant. I understood that. I started off one way and then adapted through the season. The latter half of the season I thought we were getting there. However, it’s about results and the feeling for it.”
Adkins was relieved of his duties after steering United to an 11th placed finish. Wilder, who stepped into the breach after leaving Northampton Town, led them to promotion at the first time of asking. A former United player and lifelong supporter, the visitors travel to City seventh in the Championship.
“Chris is a great appointment for Sheffield United having been there before under Dave Bassett,” Adkins said. “The way the supporters want their teams to play and what they demand of them, it’s hard to play in that arena. Great credit to the Sheffield United players because they’re doing it. I really enjoyed my time at Sheffield United. I wanted to do well there in front of passionate supporters.”