Flashy signs of new money are still being sought by the sceptical of S2. Even after six summer signings, there are those who ask if anything has really changed.
Well, you have to grant that none has been of the “blimey, how could we afford him?” variety. But stop right there.
This is League One with a squad that was already competitive. And where is the late brinkmanship of many a previous summer when Sheffield United’s recruitment was dictated by who might leave and for how much?
Look back 12 months to the late, lamented and yet already long-decided loss of Kevin McDonald to Wolves. New boss of the time David Weir was playing catch-up. United, under Nigel Clough, are well ahead of the game and committed to more signings (Kieron Freeman shaping as a seventh) whether £2m target Harry Maguire leaves or not.
And the next one has to be the big one. It will be a striker, for sure, the hardest to get and the most expensive.
What I also “get” is the reluctance of Barnsley to give credence to a local divisional rival’s designs on their top player. There are those, led by Barnsley’s chief executive, saying flatly that it simply won’t happen.
They could be right in the end, for the reasons above. But weren’t these some of the same people who rubbished news here of the Blades’ pursuit of Chris O’Grady, only to find it publicly confirmed by Clough? “Won’t happen” are big words in the uncertain world of football.
And do you suppose the interest would have lasted this long if the player wouldn’t entertain it?
Yes, you can be certain that Barnsley would prefer to see the 15-goal striker join a Championship club. You can also take a wild guess that Oakwell boss Danny Wilson, the victim of a ridiculous sacking at Bramall Lane, will feel likewise.
But can anyone really be sure that United can’t stump up £500,000 (less if there are no other bids) and a £7,000 a week wage? Or that O’Grady, a bit of a home bird, wouldn’t be happy to prove a point to another club in this vicinity?
The posturing by the clubs is pretty standard, in my view. In the end, Barnsley will have to take what they can get or risk losing a good player for little or nothing.
I’m not saying it WILL happen. That would be as high-handed as saying it won’t.
But I think we can assume the O’Grady link with Bramall Lane remain in play for now and the duration of the game so far indicates some seriousness.