As someone who supported Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s sale to Everton I’ll admit Sheffield United aren’t the only ones who ended up getting it wrong. Or did they?
Financially, yes. Hindsight being wonderful, you couldn’t buy Calvert-Lewin now for £15m, let alone the £1.5m or so agreed last summer.
What matters is that Sheffield United have grown as a club since deciding, still logically in retrospect, that the 20 year old’s potential was at that stage undemonstrated and that the task of finally escaping League One was far from an ideal proving ground. You can hardly fault Chris Wilder’s judgment on that score and promotion was the proof of the pudding.
Calvert-Lewin wasn’t going to get the chance to gain the value subsequently piled on had he remained at Bramall Lane. Go back a year and, without hindsight, Wilder would probably make the same call again.
But here’s the significance of where United now sit with David Brooks.
Back in the Championship with ambitions to go higher, they can surely afford not to come to the same conclusion should someone try to tempt them with, say, a cheeky £3-5m, on this deadline day.
Besides, Wilder’s decision to promote the England Under 20 star to his match squad (a luxury he couldn’t afford with Calvert-Lewin) speaks of reaping the reward for the academy’s latest product right here on the home front.
Not that the abiding message from all this should not be shouted and very loudly.
At some point, possibly in the not too distant future if Brooks’ maintains his rapid development, United are going to be confronted with a very serious offer and, with a standard currency of £10m for anyone half decent in the Championship, I mean huge.
It’s then that I feel the Blades must show a far steelier resolve than in the past and play the long game.
Yes, you have to accept that it’s very difficult to prevent aspiring footballers from taking a massive pay rise from a move into the Premier League. But the feeling that United have sometimes submitted too readily to this must not repeat itself concerning Brooks.
You’d reckon Wilder has already imparted to him quite strongly the sensible view that he can develop faster and go further by staying right here.
The trade off, in return, is that, while ever his form justifies it, Brooks will be in or around the first team. We have seen enough already to know that, with the right care, United have an outstanding talent on their hands.
In the past they haven’t gambled on keeping players of that ilk. This time they really must, if at all possible. As a statement and symbol of their resolve to regain top status.