James Shield’s Column: Don’t be tempted by a short-term fix

Is Bramall Lane about to enter an exciting new era?
Is Bramall Lane about to enter an exciting new era?
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“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless,” Dwight Eisenhower once commented. “But planning is indispensable.”

Sheffield United’s management, directors and supporters alike would be wise to remember the former president’s words following Tuesday’s announcement that Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a member of Saudi Arabia’s royal family and prominent business figure in the Middle East, is ready to transfer a slice of his fortune into a bank account of Bramall Lane’s choosing.

Prince Abdullah and his advisors have been at pains to remind this is a sustainable investment. “Think Liverpool rather than Manchester City,” commented friend and confident Jim Phipps.

Nevertheless, United will inevitably come under pressure to spend big after every disappointing result. Of which, it must be said ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Rotherham, there have been plenty of late.

The presence of a riyal rich benefactor is a game-changer which opens-up all sorts of exciting possibilities. But it would be a crying shame, grievous mistake even, if it tempted United to abandon their policy of signing up-and-coming talent and recruit tired journeymen instead.

They’ve been down that road before and, with all due respect to the good folk of New York Stadium, look where it got them.

That’s not dismissing the worth of experience. The knowledge of Matt Hill, Michael Doyle and Neill Collins will be invaluable as David Weir’s charges strive to improve.

Indeed, acquiring a seasoned centre-forward could accelerate the development process by giving the likes of Lyle Taylor and Jose Baxter room to breathe.

The players who finished Saturday’s defeat by MK Dons - a team, incidentally, made-up entirely of ‘free’s’ - boasted an average of just 23.9. But for some woeful finishing, it could well have won the game.

An influx of old hands would provide United with a quick fix. It would also ensure any revival is built on shaky foundations. Better, surely, to ensure Prince Abdullah’s money funds long-term projects?

Schemes which will help United establish a distinct identity rather than line the pockets of footballing mercenaries. Dwight would have probably agreed.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1