IT is official - James Beattie is back.
The prodigal son’s return to Bramall Lane helps mask the heavy losses United posted in their annual report and accounts earlier this week.
Gone are the days when the club could afford to buy players for big money and pay them huge wages. Yet, as the board have just proved, that doesn’t necessarily stop them from attracting household names.
With talented loan duo Billy Clarke and Matt Phillips returning to Blackpool, manager Danny Wilson clearly felt a new face was needed to freshen up the place and lift morale in the dressing room.
Beattie, a free agent following his release from Rangers, fits this criteria.
It is a shrewd piece of business from Wilson to get Beattie on board. The medical staff will assess the striker’s fitness before making an informed decision on his future. This way, both parties can have a look at each other and, if they like what they see, then there is an opportunity to make the arrangement more permanent.
There is no doubt Beattie, renowned for being a bubbly character, will command respect on the training ground for what he has accomplished in his career. You don’t get to play for your country five times without being damn good.
Not surprisingly, he is short of match sharpness after an injury-ravaged year. It was just over a week ago he was training at Bournemouth. A fit and confident Beattie, in all probability, would walk into most Championship sides, possibly a bottom-half Premier League team.
Beattie has to view his time at United as a chance to repair his reputation. Not only that, Wilson will hope he sticks around long enough to help pass on a few tips to the next generation. Beattie knows what it takes to reach the top and his pearls of wisdom can only benefit the conveyor belt of talent coming out of Shirecliffe.
The vast majority of United supporters love Beattie. In a year and a half at the club, he bagged 34 goals before being sold to Stoke for £3.5 million. His record throughout his 16-career speaks for itself.
His best days are probably behind him but it is not beyond the realms of possibility Beattie could still make a major contribution to United’s promotion tilt.
Can you imagine Ched Evans and a fit Beattie playing up front together? That is a strikeforce which would strike fear into a lot of defences at this level. Teams are likely to concentrate so much on nullifying Beattie that they could take their eye off United’s other threats.
PR wise, Beattie’s arrival is a masterstroke too. Over the hectic festive period, Beattie, if he signs a short-term deal, will help put more bums on seats. With the greatest of respect to Rochdale, Notts County and Hartlepool, they are not the most glamorous of fixtures and won’t bring the biggest of followings to Bramall Lane.
I see this only as a win-win situation for United. Beattie could give them the cutting edge Wilson craves in the final third or he could flop.
All I know is that it is a punt worth taking.