Alan Biggs: Sheffield United, Rhian Brewster and the aspect of a signing that fans often forget
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The irony is that no-one could possibly have imagined at the time of Chris Wilder’s appointment that United would be buying a player for £23m from the league champions little over four years later?
And from income almost entirely self-generated by the management and players. It’s why, of course, the Blades hierarchy are right to back Wilder and should keep doing so to keep their biggest asset in place.
But it’s not a sign of greater equality, far from it. The wider reality is that it is only when United are able to compete more vigorously on wages that expectations of them at this level can be raised above staying in it. Sometime never?
It’s the reason why, for instance, Wilder continues to shop for talent to develop rather than the proven top-flight product.
Some people may ask why - given it’s been said that United have spent something around £120m since returning to the top flight.
For the last window, they were in mid-table territory on fees paid, certainly not among the smallest spenders.
But United will be very low - relatively, let’s say - in terms of wage structure.
My sources suggest the former Liverpool and England forward would have wanted, as a free agent, around £100,000 a week.
Brewster, to the best of my knowledge, will be earning around a third of that, £35,000 perhaps.
It’s still a lot of money, of course, and puts the youngster at the top of the Bramall Lane pay structure.
But the important thing is that structure. Wilder knows the damage that can be caused by having a huge differential between the top paid and the rest. There are no secrets within a dressing room and harmony is vital, an absolute strength of this era.
It could be argued, with some justification perhaps, that Callum Wilson, who joined Newcastle from Bournemouth for £20m, would have been a better bet.
Except that Wilson’s wages on top, as an England international, are certain to be considerably higher.
So that’s why, as an investment, Brewster makes sense for the Blades model as it is right now.
Evolving it and taking it to the next level is an enormous challenge.
But right now nothing is more important than getting the first points on the board against Fulham this weekend.
“Huge game” is often a gross overstatement. This one is as big as United will face this season.
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