The question sends Dejphon Chansiri into a conflab with his interpreter. Can he sum up the sort of amounts he’ll be spending on players this summer?
There is some confusion across the table and this column has to repeat the question, knowing a figure is off the agenda.
Chansiri’s eyes flash as the answer is delivered: “As much as it takes.”
A quote like that has legs and those five words travelled far. They helped add to the mood of excitement and anticipation among Sheffield Wednesday fans.
Later, amid the lull of mid-summer and the shock appointment of a little-known coach, that quote may have begun to assume a sinister alternative interpretation in some minds.
It was subtle enough to be manipulated to “as little as it takes” by way of a double meaning. And there were no real clues either way as the chairman’s “sporting director by committee” went to work.
But now we can certainly discount any suspicion of Chansiri trying to do it on the cheap. Evidence was needed and it is there.
Recruitment has been taken to a new level. It means supporters can put aside their natural reservations over the choice of Carlos Carvalhal and start to embrace a radical change of approach rather than rejecting it out of hand. Big money being spent is a statement of intent in any language.
Symbolically, it almost doesn’t matter how it’s spent – but the capture of Marco Matias ticked all the boxes as a clear turning point.
Here’s a player of some stature, an attacking midfielder with a great scoring record who, at 26, has genuine ambitions of representing Portugal at senior level. Hence a fee of around £1.5m and a four-year contract.
The club didn’t make an excessive amount of noise about it, certainly not before and not even afterwards, and this can also be taken as encouraging.
There will be others and expense won’t be spared from what I’ve heard – even if the most prestige capture might be a loan (Chelsea’s Patrick Bamford among those linked). While Jordan Rhodes is probably seen as too costly for a one-player signing, I wouldn’t rule out Chansiri paying the same money for two.
When an owner commits like this you have to respect his methods whether you agree with them or not. Chansiri has been honest enough to admit that his new head coach won’t have the final say on transfers.
Your correspondent, for one, is still not entirely sold on that idea.
But you have to be broad-minded enough to accept a new way of working after the failure, for so long, of the traditional model.
If you were spending all that dosh, wouldn’t you want the final say?
What matters is the quality of the unknown sources of advice that Chansiri, as a football novice, receives. And that he is clearly a man of action, not words. It’s the right way round.
A little can say a lot. “As much as it takes.”