Alan Biggs: Recent events show ambition and caution must go hand-in-hand at Sheffield United

Spending ambitiously versus treading cautiously ... a perpetual debate in football and certainly topical at Sheffield United right now.

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 1:05 pm

It’s possible to see both sides without taking sides. Not that there’s necessarily bitter division, only people operating from a different perspective.

Manager Chris Wilder is right not to be content with hanging on in the Premier League, it’s his job to drive forward and without a key (expensive) addition or two the Blades could tumble back this season.

The owner, Prince Abdullah, is also right not to make false promises about what can be afforded. Merely standing your ground for up to three years before taking the next step forward may not be what people prefer to hear but I’ll take honesty every time.

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It’s not a time for standing still because that way leads backwards. Where we may agree, though, is that it is a time for being grateful amid some confidence that a happy medium will be reached in the expensive pursuit of Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster.

Former goalkeeper Paddy Kenny will touch on this without having realised it in his brilliant autobiography, out next week.

Completed during the lockdown summer, Kenny surveys the debris of excess and mismanagement piled up on football’s landscape.

He then stops to bow his head in mourning at the graveside of his second club, Bury, and asks how it can be morally justifiable for football to run to ridiculous extremes.

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd shakes hands with owner of Sheffield Utd H.R.H. Prince Abdullah after signing a new four and half year contract before the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Simon Bellis/Sportimage

In a rare moment of sober reflection in a book of uproarious tales from one of the game’s great characters, Kenny says of Bury’s “heartbreaking” demise: “I don’t mind admitting it brought a tear to me eye …

“It just proves that if you don’t have the right people in charge of a club, anything can happen.

“Somehow the lower league clubs need to be looked after and the money needs to be filtered down a lot better. How can players in the Premier League be earning 300 to 400 grand a week when clubs like Bury go bust over a few million.”

Or just £500,000, near enough one week’s top wage, in the subsequent case of Macclesfield Town.

Paddy Kenny, the former Sheffield United goalkeeper - Richard Markham Photography

Kenny rightly calls it “utter madness,” adding: “I’m not saying that footballers should be expected to save football clubs but, when a top player’s wages for two months or so is enough to keep a club in business, something has gone wrong at some point, hasn’t it?

“Maybe the coronavirus pandemic will help to focus a few minds in football ... but I’m not holding my breath.”

Paddy, who rose to the top via United, QPR and Ireland, was not inconsiderably paid himself, of course.

But he’s a citizen with a soul. For the rest, stand by for a treat courtesy of Danny Hall’s formidable writing skills and publishing vision.

Kenny’s career reads like the written version of a fly-on-the wall documentary, access all areas. Forget everything you think you know about him - fiction has nothing on the facts.