Belated credit must go to Sheffield United's hierarchy - Alan Biggs

You could say it doesn’t matter how you got there as long as you got there in the end.
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Well, it does matter. Sheffield United have one point from four games when a reasonable expectation, based on three of those opening fixtures, might have been five or six points.

But - and here for the first time in a while - it’s time for some belated and balancing credit for the club’s hierarchy.

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For all the criticism, much justified, it seems the Blades have actually spent more than they projected at the start of the summer.

Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis (left) with owner Prince Abdullah (right)Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis (left) with owner Prince Abdullah (right)
Sheffield United chief executive Stephen Bettis (left) with owner Prince Abdullah (right)

There was a widespread understanding that around £20m was the limit of Paul Heckingbottom’s budget.

Now, according to figures from the normally reliable transfermarkt website, United show a net spend of some £29m.

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It means that when, after the highly controversial sales of Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge, Hecky was promised all the incoming cash to spend, Prince Abdullah was as good as his word.

I must admit I doubted this at the time, having seen this club and many others squirrel away significant proportions of incoming deals. It is one thing to say it can be spent and another to do it.

However, having received just over £30m for Ndiaye and Berge, the Blades have invested it all - plus the initial £20m and then some.

What’s good, too, is that the average age of their ten summer recruits is below 23, which is something that needed to happen.

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Not sure, by the way, where that original £20m figure came from, even though it appears to have been in the ball park.

At least it showed some transparency and honesty, keeping expectations to a minimum on such a modest and, frankly, uncompetitive budget

It should also be pointed out that the fees received for Ndiaye and Berge were considerably below their market value, maybe by as much as 50%. Again, this points to a failure to tie them down on value-maintaining contracts.

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But you can accept it’s not always easy to do the obvious thing. And United themselves have signed players who could be worth more than they paid.

They have emerged from a precarious process reasonably well stocked for the future, whether that be hanging on in the Premier League or competing for another promotion from the Championship.

It doesn’t make up for lost ground but the figures have added up in the end.