Sheffield United: James Shield’s weekly Blades column

Nick Blackman in action for Sheffield United against the club he joined, Reading.
Nick Blackman in action for Sheffield United against the club he joined, Reading.
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NOW that the dust has settled on Sheffield United’s dealings during the transfer window, it is possible to pass judgement on the comings and goings at Bramall Lane.

So let’s cut straight through the spin, stuff and nonsense being peddled by supporters and critics of the present regime alike. Take an objective look at some of the challenges it faced - and steps taken to overcome them - throughout those four weeks of the year when English football descends into madness.

Losing Nick Blackman was a bitter blow in both sporting and PR terms. But, being brutally honest, when a Premier League club wants a player operating two steps down the pyramid it’s almost impossible to stand in their way.

Okay, so numerous lower division sides insisted their best performers were not up for sale as last week’s deadline for permanent signings approached. Which sounds good. Curries favour among the cyberspace commentariat. But they were indulging in subtle word play rather than laying bare the unadulterated truth.

Because while, purely for illustrative purposes, Southend won’t have been actively circulating the names of Paul Sturrock’s squad around the top-flight, if, for example, Wigan Athletic had offered £1m for one of his number they’d have been gone like a shot.

Not that the player would have “wanted to leave” of course. They never do.

After all, who wants to quadruple their wages, benefit from a generous signing on fee, annual loyalty payments and lock horns with the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea when you’ve got a cracker against Accrington Stanley or Colchester coming up?

Football, for a footballer, is, with some notable exceptions, a profession. A job. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Although clubs, United included, can not always complain about disinformation given the deliberately misleading statements they’ve all issued in the past.

Officials at Bramall Lane could have told Blackman ‘no’ when Reading came calling. And I’d be prepared to wager his appearance bonus that he’d have been pretty hacked-off.

A bit like Jamie Murphy had Motherwell prevented him from joining Danny Wilson’s side.

United, until such time as they are competing on a regular basis in the Champions League, will always be vulnerable to losing their most valuable assets. A situation only a fool would argue makes it easier to deliver success.

So they’ve got to be imaginative. Jonathan Forte is a much improved player to the one which left South Yorkshire in 2007. Barry Robson, whose expertise and experience should make him an excellent addition, was recruited on a free transfer after leaving Vancouver Whitecaps. Not that any transfer or loan is ‘free’ given the fees and salary contributions involved.

Oh, and another thing. Why is it that managers who fail to do business on deadline day are criticised for lacking ambition?

Do transfers completed on the first day of January count less than those processed at 10.59pm on the 31st?

*Twitter: JamesShield1