James Shield's Sheffield United Column: The changing rules of the transfer window

It used to be about signing players and selling those who were no longer wanted.

Saturday, 21st July 2018, 9:16 am
Updated Saturday, 21st July 2018, 9:27 am
The rules of the transfer window have changed

But, as Sheffield United are fast discovering, the transfer window is now about orchestrating perception as well as procurement.Two months ago, when football's bloodstock market reopened for business following a five month hiatus, Chris Wilder went public with his plans. Despite being reluctant to speak about names, (nothing unusual or alarming there), he acknowledged two centre-forwards and an experienced centre-half featured on Bramall Lane's wish-list, together with a goalkeeper and attacking midfielder should, as it later transpired, David Brooks depart. Nearly eleven weeks later, when Dean Henderson was still the only new face to so far be unveiled, Wilder must have felt like enrolling on a course about managing expectations. Because, with George Long and possibly Simon Moore following Brooks through the exit door, many supporters were expressing their alarm at the apparent lack of progress. Until John Egan broke the impasse.It is a frustrating yet entirely understandable situation. Particularly now the legal wrangle between United's two co-owners has reached the High Court. Nothing ever happens at a club entirely in isolation. Their dispute, quite rightly, is a matter of serious concern. But, even though questions remain about how much of the Brooks money will filter back into Wilder's coffers, the fact United's dealings initially focused on departures does not mean they are heading for disaster. Because, unfortunately, trades are impossible to choreograph.In an perfect world, United's summer would go something like this: Three or four eye-catching purchases are completed followed by a handful of sales and then another big money acquisition just before the deadline. That chronology would keep everyone happy, help season ticket sales and foster a sense of excitement among a fan base which, not without reason, is suspicious of authority.Wilder, though, has been nothing but honest since being appointed in 2016. Brutally so and, quite often, to his own detriment. For this reason, when he says bids have been lodged and United are waiting for answers, there is no reason to doubt him. Likewise, because they are now chasing a better calibre of player, when he warns negotiations aimed at securing their release will become more protracted than in the past. After all, in order to improve an already talented squad, United must court folk boasting more than one suitor or still wanted by their present clubs. And agreements like that take time to broker, especially when you do not possess unlimited finance. Egan's capture, following lengthy talks with Brentford, illustrates that fact. Although it it tempting to do otherwise, the time to judge United's work during this summer's transfer window is when it has closed.Meanwhile, on an entirely different note, it was heartening to learn Bramall Lane's South Stand is being renamed in honour of Tony Currie. Having campaigned long and hard on this issue, (although, admittedly, not as long and hard as some), and written several columns on the subject, I will be delighted to watch United's greatest ever player officially receive this recognition before Tuesday's friendly against Internazionale. It should be a wonderful start to a memorable night.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise