Kevin Blackwell returns to Gigg Lane as manager with immediate affect
Kevin Blackwell has accepted the role of Manager at Bury Football Club and takes over first team affairs immediately.
Born in Luton, Kevin began his football career as an apprentice at Cambridge United, with Ron Atkinson as his manager. After failing to make the grade at the Abbey Stadium, he moved into Non-League football, playing for Bedford Town while working as a bricklayer. He later played in the 1978 FA Vase final for Barton Rovers and for Middlesex Wanderers before being signed by Barnet. In 1980 he moved to Boston United for a fee of £5,000, saving a penalty at Wembley in the 1985 FA Trophy final. He returned to Barnet in 1986 before Neil Warnock signed him for Scarborough in November the same year.
That season saw Scarborough promoted to the Football League and Blackwell remained at the club for their first two league seasons, making 44 league appearances in addition to those made in the Conference. Warnock moved to Notts County in January 1989, and in November of that year he returned to Scarborough to sign Blackwell for £15,000. In just over 3 years at Meadow Lane, Blackwell never made a league appearance, and in January 1993, when Warnock took over at Torquay United, Blackwell followed him, playing 18 league games in a successful battle to stay in the Football League.
At the end of the season, Warnock moved to Huddersfield Town and in August 1993, Blackwell once again joined him, this time taking on coaching duties in addition to his playing role. His playing opportunities were limited to three full league appearances, plus another two as a substitute.
In August 1995, Blackwell followed Warnock to Plymouth Argyle on a free transfer and was appointed player-youth coach. Warnock left in February 1997, but Blackwell remained at Argyle, working as assistant manager to Mick Jones. He remained registered as a player, solely as a precautionary measure, but in March 1998 returned to full-time training as emergency cover for Argyle's only keeper Jon Sheffield. He was never called upon and ended his career after 24 league appearances for Argyle.
When Neil Warnock arrived at Bury, Blackwell was soon appointed goalkeeping coach at Gigg Lane, eventually becoming assistant manager. In December 1999, Neil Warnock was appointed manager of Sheffield United and took Blackwell with him as his assistant. In September 2000, Blackwell's thoughts were turned to playing again, he was still registered as a player and due to injuries was the only cover for the Blades' first choice keeper.
Blackwell left Sheffield United for Leeds United to join Peter Reid as his Assistant Manager in 2003. He remained in this role under Eddie Gray following Reid's dismissal before taking over as manager of Leeds in the summer 2004 following the club's relegation from the Premiership. Handed the task of rebuilding Leeds' team after huge debts forced the jettisoning of its highly paid stars, Blackwell made a record number of signings for the club in 2004–05. He focused on value for money, buying players that, while talented, had not made the highest grade. Although early results were poor, perhaps affected by boardroom turmoil that saw the new board struggle to put the club onto a sound financial footing and in time led to its takeover by Ken Bates, Blackwell led the side to challenge for the playoffs, before a run of draws slowed progress, leaving Leeds in mid-table.
Blackwell had been seen as a temporary appointment, perhaps to be replaced by a more glamorous name, but his success in stabilising the team – and his initial popularity with fans – led Bates to suggest he had a long term future at the club.
Blackwell took his Leeds team into the Championship play-off final, after beating Preston North End 3–1 on aggregate in the semi-finals. However Leeds lost the final 3–0 to Watford on 21 May 2006. A string of bad results followed in both pre-season and the start of the 2006–07 and on 20 September 2006 his contract as Leeds United manager was terminated. As Blackwell left the club, Leeds were lying 23rd in the table, with seven points from eight games. After leaving Leeds, Blackwell travelled around Europe going to big name clubs such as Real Madrid and Internazionale acquiring knowledge of further training techniques to help him with his management career.
Blackwell, took the position of Sheffield United manager replacing Bryan Robson on 14 February 2008 until the end of the season. He was assisted by his former Luton Town assistant Sam Ellis. In the 2008–2009 season Blackwell took Sheffield United to The Championship play off final after beating Preston North End 2–1 over two legs. Sheffield United lost the final 1–0 against Burnley.
On 14 August 2010 after losing 3–0 to Queens Park Rangers, the club website confirmed that Blackwell had left the club by mutual consent. Since leaving Sheffield united Kevin Blackwell has gone on to gain further qualifications and remains to be one of the most qualified coaches throughout the game. He has also been travelling across the world coaching in other countries including Nigeria & the USA.