Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough has insisted that quality not quantity will guide his movements in the transfer market this summer.
But, dismissing suggestions that he is planning sweeping changes to a squad which finished seventh in the League One table last season and reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, the former England international warned those players already on the books at Bramall Lane must still demonstrate they are worthy of starting roles next term.
Clough, who guided United out of the relegation zone to within the brink of the top six after being appointed in October, told The Star: “This group has done well over the past few months. We want to make some improvements but we also want improvement from the existing members too. That’s vitally important.”
“We’ve got a few ideas but the emphasis will always be on quality rather than quantity,” he continued. “And the people who come in must show that same attitude and wortk ethic too.”
Clough’s determination that character will be the hallmark of his United team explains the recent arrival of Chris Basham, Andy Butler, Marc McNulty and Jamal Campbell-Ryce. All four have proven effective performers on the pitch for their previous clubs while also commanding the respect of fellow professionals behind the scenes.
In addition, United’s latest acquisitions also view the move to South Yorkshire as a step-up the footballing pyramid, with Campbell-Ryce, who has represented Barnsley, Rotherham and Notts County, describing them as “the biggest club” he has played for during his career.
Clough, who will use friendlies against Burton Albion (July 19) and Northampton Town (July 22) to help prepare for the 2014/15 campaign, still wants to recruit a new centre-forward despite capturing McNulty from Livingston where he scored 45 goals in 117 appearances for John McGlynn’s side.
Lyle Taylorv is expected to depart after being allowed to join Partick Thistle on loan while Chris Porter’s contract has expired.
With McNulty admitting he is best suited to working with a partner, Clough’s search for further attacking reinforcements indicates he is considering the switch to a 4-4-2 formation rather than the 4-2-3-1 he adopted soon after taking charge.
“Ideally, we’d like to get the majority of our business done quickly,” Clough said. “But there may be some players who we could decide to wait for.”