Walmsley back from sharpening Blades

TONY Walmsley has left his position as Head of Academy Recruitment at English club Sheffield United after a year in the role and returned to Australia.

The English-born Australian coach, who left his role as coach of the Central Coast Mariners’ National Youth League side in September last year, has exited Sheffield United to seek a new challenge away from football.

“Once my department had been set up, I needed a fresh challenge,” Walmsley said. “After 12 months I was not moving forward the way I had anticipated and I couldn’t see it changing in the near future.

"Ultimately there was a missed opportunity as I had a lot more to offer.”

Walmsley arrived in Australia in the last 1980s as a player-coach and had stints in coaching and development at Football Federation Tasmania, Football NSW, Football Queensland, the Parramatta Eagles Soccer Academy and as head coach of Spirit FC.

He spent three seasons with the Mariners NYL team, winning two Premierships and finishing second once, and served as an assistant to Graham Arnold with the A-League side.

Walmsley has no regrets about joining Sheffield United.

“Walking into the Blades for the first time as an official of the club was a very proud moment for me,” he said.

“I spent 25 years in the game overseas and couldn't pass up the opportunity to work in professional football at such a big club with a great tradition and fan base. 

"I could see great potential in being Head of Recruitment for the Academy, currently ranked 8th in the country for producing players and with a recruitment driven strategy in place.”

Sheffield United has experienced a huge amount of turnover in the past 12 months.

First-team manager Danny Wilson was sacked towards the end of last season, replaced by David Weir, who has also been fired recently after a string of bad results.

The Blades currently sit in the relegation zone in League One and this week former Derby boss Nigel Clough has been appointed as the new manager.

Sheffield United’s Academy manager Jamie Hoyland resigned in March, after just seven months in the role, while Head Academy coach David Unsworth departed in August. Motherwell academy director Gordon Young has been hired to oversee the Academy’s operations.

Walmsley has taken up a new corporate position but is not ruling out a return to football in the future.

“I have already been approached with some serious propositions to work in the game, but at the moment I am focused on my new venture - a corporate role with bases in Sydney and the UK,” he said.

“It's an opportunity to transfer leadership and communication skills and to help the company by adding to their management  think tank. It's a very interesting time for me.  

“[But] I'm not closing any doors - at Sheffield United, or in football. I can see myself continuing to work in the game at a professional level. My new role will be very demanding, but I will look at opportunities and see where I can contribute.”