JOHN Pemberton, Sheffield United’s academy director, last night urged his players to resist temptation by pledging their futures to Bramall Lane.
Speaking ahead of Monday’s FA Youth Cup Final second leg at Old Trafford, which could see the South Yorkshire club win the trophy for the first time in its 58-year history, Pemberton revealed their progress on the pitch has created new challenges off it.
Admitting that interest in United’s youngsters has reached fever pitch - “When I first came here I didn’t get any phone calls. Now agents are all over the place” - he warned his charges not to have their heads turned by lucrative offers elsewhere.
“It does make my job more difficult when you’ve got people telling these lads they can earn three or four times more than they’re getting here somewhere else,” said Pemberton.
“But what’s better for them is to play 30 or 40 games here for Sheffield United before they start thinking about any of that.”
Having insisted that a commitment to youth is essential in order to be considered for the vacant manager’s position at United, plc chairman Kevin McCabe recently insisted he will do everything “within my power” to ensure Pemberton’s golden generation remains intact.
Several members of the team set to face Manchester United, including Jordan Slew, Harry Maguire and George Long, have already made their senior debuts.
United’s march through the tournament has prompted calls for McCabe and his fellow directors to consider Pemberton’s claims for the role.
Danny Wilson, previously of Sheffield Wednesday and Barnsley, is also in the running while Aidy Boothroyd held talks with United’s representatives soon after Micky Adams’ departure.
Despite stressing that he is not “anti agent”, Pemberton added: “I always tell them don’t let an agent make a football decision for you because of financial reasons. I’m not against them (agents) because they’re part of life now and we have to work with them but you are much better off playing 40 games here than 40 in a Premier League club’s reserve team.
“League football looks much better on your CV than Pontins League football as far as I’m concerned. If you do well then the money will always come.” Blades: P42