What Sheffield United have achieved just by reaching the FA Cup semi-finals is impossible to under-estimate. Both in terms of sheer sporting endevour and prestige.
Irrespective of the result against Hull City next month, manager Nigel Clough, his staff and squad have all done Bramall Lane proud. Likewise, without wishing to be accused of currying favour, those supporters who turned out in impressive numbers for matches against Aston Villa, Fulham, Nottingham Forest and even Cambridge despite these financially chastened times.
The sight of over 30,000 folk descending upon United’s famous old stadium for Sunday’s quarter-final against Charlton Athletic provided a fascinating glimpse into the club’s potential. The Steel City, if both United and Sheffield Wednesday can get their acts together over the next few seasons, boasts all the ingredients to become a footballing superpower.
Given the financial implications - progressing through to last four of the competition has been worth nearly three-quarters-of-a-million pounds in prize money alone - it would be encouraging to think United could spend some of that money rewarding fans who have followed them all the way through the rounds.
The best way, of course, will be using it to construct a team capable of delivering promotion. Either by recruiting top-line talent or retaining the services of those who might otherwise be tempted elsewhere.
But, with this in mind, United must resist the temptation to splurge everything they have earned on players. It would be wise to ensure some of the smaller, less glamourous details, are also taken care of. That the permanent building blocks which help deliver consistent success are also in place behind the scenes. Take United’s pitch, for example, which despite the best efforts of groundstaff, forced the postponement of recent fixtures with Brentford and Peterborough. A backlog of games, particularly for those in the third and fourth tiers, has the potential to adversely effect results.
Some of the monies United’s march through the world’s most prestigious domestic knockout competition could be spent on providing the technology which limits the odds of this happening again. Just a thought.