Though he has been a successful manager in his own right Kevin Blackwell is most often found in football in the dug-out alongside Neil Warnock, the pair have worked together at 11 clubs.
Blackwell has fought adverse circumstances to become an established Football League manager, having taken charge of Sheffield United, Leeds United and Luton Town.
Blackwell, who battled financial crises at former clubs Leeds United and Luton Town, led Sheffield United to the play-off final in his first full season at Bramall Lane.
The ex-goalkeeper previously advanced his coaching career with the Blades under long-term mentor Warnock. Together, they led United to the semi-finals of both cups and an appearance in the play-off final in 2003.
Blackwell departed the following summer to join Peter Reid at Leeds United. Following a fire sale of players and Reid’s departure, Kevin took charge at Elland Road in 2004. He had to assemble almost an entire new squad. Leeds reached the play-off final, losing to Watford, in 2006 before Blackwell and Leeds parted company just eight games into the following season.
He responded positively by touring some of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Real Madrid and Inter Milan, in a quest for further knowledge. Blackwell, who was also an early graduate of the LMA’s certificate in applied management at Warwick University, returned to management with hometown Luton in March, 2007. Again he was beset by cash problems he left Kenilworth Road following the club entering administration.
Kevin, who paid some of the younger players at Luton out of his own pocket, was recalled to Bramall Lane as Bryan Robson’s managerial replacement in February, 2008. He hoisted a side suffering a relegation hangover from the bottom half of the table to ninth place, just four points adrift of the top six.
Up the end of the following season – when third-placed United were beaten by Burnley in the play-off final at Wembley – Blackwell boasted a 50% win ratio at Bramall Lane with 33 victories and only 15 defeats. The following season, the Blades finished 8th in the Championship, narrowly missing out on a place in the play-offs. Surprisingly, after only two games into the 2010/11 season, Blackwell and Sheffield United parted company. At the time of his departure, Blackwell was the 20th longest serving manager in English football. As a keeper, he played in FA Vase and Trophy finals and the link with Warnock began when he joined Scarborough in 1989. They reunited with Notts County, Torquay, Huddersfield, Plymouth and Bury before moving to Bramall Lane together 10 years after first joining forces.
Hooking up again at Crystal Palace in 2014 they have subsequently worked together at QPR, Rotherham, Cardiff and Middlesbrough.