Alan Biggs: Chris Wilder remains confident amongst boardroom strife behind the scenes at Sheffield United
Some things you can't gloss over. Like a civil war raging inside a football club. And yet Sheffield United's hopes for a successful season dependÂ on doing exactly that.
It’s why the club’s manager is likely to keep a relentless focus on being confident and positive. Importantly, too, he will know better than anyone the psyche of those Blades fans getting a bit heated over this slow-burn of a summer.
Given the boardroom – and courtroom – strife between warring owners, such discontent is entirely predictable and forgivable.
How do those supporters see it? Well. . . five players sought for various roles, less than four weeks to the new campaign, only one (a keeper to replace a keeper) signed. That was the position as this was being written – amid some scoffing at the standard free-hit trial offered to a striker of repute in David McGoldrick, who made a nonsense of such derision in the midweek friendly at Bradford City.
But if the frustration is understandable then so is the delay. Whoever said it would be easy, on still very limited resources, to improve on this squad of players? Wilder had warned at the outset that recruits ideally had to be better than those already at the club.
That’s a tall order, even without lingering uncertainty over how much exactly he has to spend, assumed to be ring-fenced around Wilder’s agreement on a new contract and gauged by this column recently to be upwards of £6m (before any of the David Brooks money). Returning CEO Steve Bettis, a much needed buffer between team boss and board, is the key man in facilitating all this.
Some people are making the further assumption that Wilder doesn’t want to pay over the current wage ceiling or is unwilling to do so for fear of disrupting the togetherness of the squad.
It might be a factor in the choice, but I don’t believe that to be the case. Otherwise, how do you progress? How do you enlist targets like Sam Gallagher and Scott Hogan, among others?
The point is that players will accept others earning more providing they can see that, by deed and reputation, they are worth it. If so, they can be welcomed into the group and encouraged to make a difference, which in turn benefits the whole.
So it’s highly logical that more time is taken over this and, of course, better players are harder to get.
If that poses a test of nerve for people associated with Sheffield United, you can bet the manager won’t be the one failing it.