Nigel Clough has vowed Sheffield United will use the transfer market to ensure there is no repeat of the mistakes which contributed towards their defeat in the play-off semi-finals, writes James Shield.
But Clough, outlining why defence and attack are his two main priorities this summer, dismissed calls for wholesale change after embarking upon a major overhaul of the squad 12 months ago.
Clough, who insisted United had still made progress during the 2014/15 season despite failing to win promotion from League One, said: “The centre-half problem was a negative, definitely. Especially at set plays, because that comes from centre-half.
“That was the biggest problem. Losing Harry (Maguire) and then not replacing him effectively enough a week before the season.”
Brighton and Hove Albion’s Chris O’Grady and Steven Davies are both thought to feature on United’s wanted list after joining the club on loan last term. He is also a confirmed admirer of Ben Pringle although midfield is not a department which features on Bramall Lane’s immediate ‘to-do’ list.
Pringle, who parted company with Rotherham yesterday, joined Derby County during Clough’s spell in charge at the iPro Stadium.
Analysing last term’s fifth placed finish, en route to their 7-6 aggregate defeat by Swindon Town in the end-of-season knockouts, Clough said: “Centre-forward was another issue. I think our general football has improved and was good. But, over the course of an entire season, we needed to be better in both penalty areas.
“One of the things we want to look at is effecting the game more at times. That comes down to centre-half and centre-forward.”
Clough, who yesterday described Maguire’s decision to join Hull City eleven days before United’s curtainraiser against eventual champions Bristol City, added: “We’re looking to try and build, that’s what we’ve been trying ever since we’ve come in and progress is being made.
Meanwhile, United’s co-owner Kevin McCabe last night jointed the tributes to Bramall Lane legend Alan Woodward who passed away, aged 68, on Thursday.
“First and foremost our thoughts are with Alan’s family,” McCabe said. “This is a sad loss.
“Woody was a real fans’ favourite, a dynamic footballer who had speed, the ability to put in a great cross and, of course, a thumping shot.”