When Prince Abdullah, a member of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family and businessman, first swept through the doors of Bramall Lane, many commentators, seduced by talk of game-changing investments and promotion winning campaigns, took it as read that Sheffield United would be awash with riyals during last month’s transfer window.
Hence, some of the criticism which has surrounded their January dealings despite the arrival of exciting new names such as Stefan Scougall and John Brayford in Nigel Clough’s squad.
We were promised permanent acquisitions, sections of United support base have complained. Not, Scougall apart, a succession of loans.
Admittedly, United have a chequered history in this particular market. Too much emphasis on borrowing players contributed to their fall from grace in the Championship several seasons ago.
But, at this moment in time, thank heavens they have resisted the temptation to indulge in stylish PR stunts. Refused to make purchases designed as much to make a statement as helping to build a club.
The new co-owner’s money should, even with the restraints of Salary Cost Management Protocol, have a positive effect upon United’s recruitment policy when work to reprofile their wage bill is finally completed.
But, whether folk like it or not, Clough inherited a team battling against relegation following his appointment in October. Indeed, so poor were previous results, that despite averaging 1.21 points (compared to 0.5) per game under his tutelage, they still entering tomorrow’s crucial fixture with Shrewsbury Town.
United are confident of survival. But, like it or not, there are no guarantees. What type of established player with Championship aspirations would commit themselves to contract which could take them into League Two instead?
Probably, to be fair, one more interested in money than furthering a career. Of which, let’s be brutally honest ladies and gentlemen, United have bought far too many of in the past.
The summer, when hopefully Clough can label this season as a one-off and sell his vision of a top six challenge to would-be recruits, is the time when United can get more for their moolah.