Sheffield United: '˜I bet there's a few people wishing they'd signed Oliver Norwood now'
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, suspects many of his club's Championship rivals now regret not pursuing an interest in Oliver Norwood before the midfielder's move to Bramall Lane.
Norwood, on loan from Brighton and Hove Albion, will join United on a permanent basis when the transfer window reopens next month with a fee, thought to be in the region of Â£2m, already agreed between the two clubs.
After watching the Northern Ireland international make a flying start to his career in South Yorkshire, Wilder has revealed his surprise that Hull City were the only team to rival United for the player's signature when it became clear Albion were prepared to do business.
Acknowledging his employers were wise to negotiate Norwood's price tag before unveiling him in August, Wilder said: "It might have gone up and there might be a few people thinking 'I wish I'd jumped on that deal.' We had to do a bit of wheeling and dealing.Â
"I think we've had some really good transfer windows. Okay, you can always do better. But with our situation, we've had good windows.Â
"As a manager and a coaching staff, you always look for players to hit the ground running and Olly did. He's had a great start."
United sold Lee Evans to Wigan Athletic, their opponents on New Year's Day, in order to help finance the Norwood purchase and keep their salary costs under control.
Despite Paul Coutts' return to fitness following a serious injury, the 27-year-old has become a permanent fixture in Wilder's starting eleven although, speaking ahead of the visit to Greater Manchester, he confirmed Norwood does not enjoy protected status within United's first team squad.
"He's keeping a damn good player out of the team," Wilder continued. "Paul understands that. Olly understands that; the fact he's got to play well to keep a damn good player out to stay in, too."
Having confirmed Everton's Kieran Dowell as their latest new addition before their game against Blackburn Rovers, United will travel to Norwood's native North-West hopeful of sustaining a top six challenge during the second-half of the campaign.
If they do gain promotion, it will the third time in as many seasons Norwood has achieved the feat after helping Chris Hughton's side and Fulham reach the Premier League before heading to United.
"If any of that magic can rub off on us, then that's great," Wilder said. "He's definitely taken control and kicked things on."