Sheffield United: Howard welcomes Blades cash boost

Mark Howard starred as United prevailed 5-3 on penalties at Scunthorpe United in midweek in the JP Trophy.
Mark Howard starred as United prevailed 5-3 on penalties at Scunthorpe United in midweek in the JP Trophy.
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Penalty shoot-out hero Mark Howard has welcomed the arrival of new Sheffield United co-owner Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and thinks only “good things can come” out of the link-up.

It was 48 hours ago that the Blades, who are currently lying in 17th position in the third-tier of English football, revealed Saudi Arabian Prince Abdullah has purchased a 50 per cent stake in United’s parent company for £1 to become joint owner and co-chairman of the League One outfit with Kevin McCabe.

The 47-year-old Prince, the founder and chairman of the largest paper tissue company in the Middle East, has pledged to invest “substantial” new capital into improving David Weir’s first-team squad over the coming years.

Howard, who starred as the Blades beat Scunthorpe 5-3 on penalties in midweek after a goalless draw at Glanford Park in the first round of the northern section of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, believes the new investment has lifted morale at the club.

“It is a massive boost,” Howard, who kept out Andy Welsh’s spot kick, told The Star. “It is great for everybody at the club knowing the direction that everybody wants to push us in now.

“It is a positive move for the club and I can only see good things from it. It is great that there is a bit of money to help improve the side.”

Before the transfer window shut on Monday night, Weir recruited Jose Baxter, Florent Cuvelier and Harry Bunn to strengthen the attacking options at his disposal. Cuvelier, a Belgian Under-21 international, demonstrated glimpses of his potential against Scunthorpe, which was his first outing for United since joining Weir’s troops for an undisclosed fee from Stoke City.

Howard said: “We haven’t got the biggest of squads so we are all involved all the time.

“They new guys have settled in well. It is going to take them time to settle but I think they will do well.

“People have got to be patient with them. It is never easy being a new lad but I think they’ve all got the qualities we need and it is up to them to show how good they are.

“This is a massive club and we want to get it back to the level where it should be. With the new investors coming in, they’ve obviously got a vision and getting the new lads on board is part of that.”

Howard, who has started both of United’s cup matches this season, said he was delighted United recorded their first shut out of the season on Tuesday.

“You ask any defender or goalkeeper and we want to keep clean sheets,” he said. “That’s our bread and butter and what we strive for.”