Two things that should not need saying. Sheffield United have one of the most coveted managers in football. And the club, third in the Championship, is being challenged to match his ambitions.
Those two things become one in the January window. So when all the noises from the top are about upping the ante, I can’t see any reason for those statements not to be serious or sincere.
To go any other way invites the unthinkable but far from impossible prospect of Chris Wilder being lured elsewhere. Of course, we’d all like that topic to be taboo. Raising it always prompts a cry from somewhere of scaremongering.
But you’d have to be a Blade with a blindfold to reject the reality that Wilder, who was genuinely courted by Sunderland last summer and considered by Crystal Palace, will have some increasingly attractive career options.
As Blades director Tareq Hawasli, one of Prince Abdullah’s representatives, said on my Sheffield Live TV show: “Any successful coach for any successful team will always have these rumours.” He followed up with this: “We support him 100 per cent. We have one ambition – to get to the Premier League together. All of our interests are aligned.”
Of course, talk is cheap and actions are not. Equally, you would not expect the now more hands-on Prince to itemise a transfer fund because that would drive up prices. What is certain, however, is that Wilder cannot continue to make an absolute banquet of the scraps he and his staff fed on last summer.
Ten signings looks an impressive haul and, indeed, most have proven to be expertly judged. But the net fee outlay in the region of £3.5m was a pittance beside the spending power of most clubs at this level.
And it was only around half the sell-on windfall United received from big-money moves by former players Kyle Walker and Harry Maguire. That bonanza went to balancing books which seldom square up in the ultra-competitive world of football. Fair enough up to a point because the game as a whole needs responsible housekeeping.
However, United are approaching stick-or-twist. If they are still competitive in January, the chance may not repeat itself any time soon. Windows of opportunity haveto be jumped through – literally.
Wilder will make no such demands publicly but I think privately he will place great store on what happens next. He has lit a huge bonfire of expectation that will either flare or fizzle.
Put another way, there is a chance the current admirable team and squad can go only so far without burning out. It will need more fuel on the fire – but only of high octane.
The couple or so quality additions that can keep the Premier League in sight will be at a premium; they will have to be not only outstanding performers but of the right character to complement a wonderfully unified dressing room. And they will be expensive!