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Speed appointed new Sheff Utd manager

Gary Speed said the opportunity to take charge of Sheffield United was "too good to turn down" after being unveiled as Kevin Blackwell's successor. The 40 year old, who has signed a three-year contract, has retained the services of Blackwell's assistant Sam Ellis and hopes to appoint a new coach in time for his first game in charge at Middlesbrough on Sunday.

Speed, appointed player-coach by Blackwell in July 2009, said: "I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to manage a great club like Sheffield United.

"These opportunities don't come around very often and I feel this is my time and that I'm ready for the step-up.

"I would have liked it to have been in better circumstances. We were all disappointed on Saturday and I'd like to thank Kevin Blackwell for everything he did for me personally.

"He helped me in many aspects of coaching and management and I'm sure it won't be too long before he's back in the game.

"He did a lot of work here behind the scenes that will stand this club in good stead in the future."

Better players than Speed have failed as managers and Blades fans remember only too well the ill-fated nine-month stint in charge at Bramall Lane of Blackwell's predecessor, Bryan Robson.

But Speed, the former Wales international, who spent almost 20 years in the top flight before joining the Blades on loan as a player on New Year's Day 2008, is undaunted.

He said: "I think at this time I'd be silly to pass up the opportunity. I know the club, I know the players, I know the fans, so hopefully that will give me the best chance to be successful.

"Sunday's result is very important, but longer term I want to build a culture within the club and be recognised as a successful brand in this country and around the world.

"Results are the most important thing, but I'll be trying to stamp my own mark on the team and the way we play."

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