Keith Curle, the former Sheffield United defender, once warned against the danger of underestimating just how difficult it can be to change clubs.
Different training methods, unfamiliar team mates and tactics, he reckoned, meant months of acclimatisation. Even longer if the transfer also involved moving house.
Chris Wilder understands the thinking behind Curle’s theory having upped sticks on five occasions during a career spanning nearly two decades and 11 different teams. So, despite acknowledging that not all of his 12 signings since being appointed United manager during the close season have hit the ground running, he insisted it would be foolish to pass judgement on their suitability until at least six months of the new League One campaign have passed.
“My experience in the job tells me that some lads won’t come in and start off on the front foot,” he said. “That’s probably been the case here. But we still believe they will go on to become good players for Sheffield United.”
Short-termism is arguably the greatest blight on the modern game with players, coaching staff and managers routinely written-off after only a handful of poor performances or chequered results. Just over two weeks ago, having failed to win any of their opening five matches, United were being described as lightweight, shot-shy and destined for relegation. Now, after taking six points from a possible six, they enter Saturday’s meeting with AFC Wimbledon being tipped to force themselves into top two contention come the end of the month. Wilder, who led Northampton Town to promotion before taking charge of in May, said: “The players are getting used to the club and we are getting used to them. Don’t forget, and no matter what people say this does make a difference, some of them are used to playing in front of three or four thousand a week whereas, for our home games, it’s more like 19 or 20 thousand.”
“That, and the demands that come with it, do take some adjusting too. But if you are a good player and a strong person then you will. You will get used to it and get better as time goes on.”
Chris Hussey, who started his career with United’s next opponents, probably falls into the category of players who have yet to produce their best at Bramall Lane. The full-back was an unused substitute during last Sunday’s victory over Gillingham following Daniel Lafferty’s arrival on loan from Burnley but could return at Kingsmeadow stadium.
“You’ve got to let players grow,” Wilder said. “If you do that, then you will get performances. We’ve brought people in to provide competition for places. But it’s not about replacing anybody because, I don’t care what anybody says, although nobody should feel as if they are irreplaceable in the team, it’s the group as a whole that’s important. The ones pushing to get in are just as important as anybody else when it comes to deciding results.”