Alan Biggs: Sheffield United show power that surprise factor can have in transfer market

Ben Heneghan came in as a surprise signing on deadline day from Motherwell
Ben Heneghan came in as a surprise signing on deadline day from Motherwell
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Ten signings in the summer window, two of them without external fuss on deadline day.

Proof positive of the value of letting a manager manage - even if we now know, from a unique insight behind the scenes, that five were targeted on one day last Thursday.

And it goes deeper. Who knew Sheffield United were even interested in Ben Heneghan? Or Clayton Donaldson?

Come to that, and with no disrespect intended, who had heard of Heneghan? Amazing how so many signings are acclaimed by those who owe their knowledge to a quick Google search.

Ok, I’ll admit that was also me last Thursday night after defender Heneghan moved from Motherwell for £400,000. But the point is, the bigger the surprise the more you can be sure that transfer business is being conducted in the right way. Quietly and with no agent leaks leading to an auction.

Two further thoughts on this. Does it help if very few of a club’s personnel are directly involved? And is it best if the person driving deals is actually the manager?

Well, yes and yes. Two blindingly obvious answers when you think about it and a simple truth to which so many in football have become blind.

You pay a football professional to manage your team. How come you would not defer to him on transfers? How come, for instance, a manager as experienced as they come in Rafa Benitez was helplessly out of the loop when Newcastle delivered a blank last week?

As I pointed out here in the summer, Chris Wilder insists on being hands on.

He doesn’t just itemise the players to buy or sell, he’s personally involved in the fees and contract terms for signings. Why? Because he has to create a fair environment in the dressing room to ensure personal egos and greed never get in the way of togetherness.

But don’t forget, either, the work of recruitment head, Paul Mitchell, who painstakingly researches players of the right character, as well as quality, to fit the overall ethos. Or head of football administration, Carl Shieber. I think it all makes perfect sense as does the willingness of United’s board, outside of setting budget constraints, to give Wilder his head in tandem with a highly experienced number two in Alan Knill.

We saw them all at work in the Bleacher Report’s illuminating fly-on-the-wall film of how a club operates on deadline day. Well, not any club. United, albeit controversially, were presumably happy to co-operate because they know they do it right. And they do.

Many other clubs should take note.

As for players letting agents dictate to them, don’t get me started. . .