WHAT lessons can Sheffield United learn from this year’s European Championships in Poland and Ukraine?
At first glance, other than the fact Alan Pardew could moonlight as a Grattan catalogue model and Roy Keane is fond of the word ‘listen’, very little.
The world inhabited by the likes of Cesc Fabregas and Sergio Ramos is light years apart from the one Danny Wilson’s players will occupy next season.
But, dig beneath the glamour, and several themes have emerged which should thaw even the coldest of hearts on the terraces at Bramall Lane.
The first being Germany’s re-emergence as a force on the international stage, eight years after Die Mannschaft’s miserable showing at Euro 2004, under the expert stewardship of Joachim Loew.
And the second, is that the secret of good management is a pudding bowl haircut and co-ordinated wardrobe.
Loew’s fresh-faced squad, which contains 13 players aged 24 or under, might have trouble getting into some of Kiev’s swishest bars but, on the pitch, they have gone about their business with impressive pizzazz and maturity.
Proof that, providing the main man has a plan, it is possible to mould a collection of talented young individuals into a damn effective team.
No one is comparing the likes of Elliott Whitehouse, Joe Ironside or Terry Kennedy with Mesut Ozil, Marco Reus or Thomas Muller.
Or claiming to have unearthed a game-changing strategy.
But Wilson, who for altogether different reasons must weave several graduates of Sheffield United’s youth academy into his senior side next term, now has tangible proof that given the right tools and time, great things can occur.
Further evidence that a squad’s effectiveness can outstrip the sum of its parts can be found nearly 1500 miles away from the diamond of the Dnieper in the French City of Montpellier.
Where, in case it has escaped your attention, Rene Girard’s side won Le Championnat last term.
Paris St Germain, drowning in around £120m worth of Arab oil money, had predictably been tipped to clinch the title.
Instead it was seized by an unfashionable collection of home grown talent and time served journeymen whose combustible owner Louis Nicollin has proudly proclaimed that “so long as I’m president, you’ll never see a Montpellier player earning £42,000 a week.”
His top earner, by the way, is believed to pocket around £30,000 less.
“We’re a club of mates,” coach Girard said. “Money isn’t everything.”
But it does help.
Of course, at domestic level, such examples are exceptions to the rule.
But they do provide proof that deep pockets are not the only thing required to fashion an effective team.
If supporters and directors do genuinely want to see United’s young talent flourish, then they must enter into a pact with those entrusted to shepherd it through the ranks.
Accept the inevitable inconsistent performances.
Not to rant, rave and bawl at the first iffy sequence of results.
That way, coaching staff will feel more minded to fulfil their half of the bargain.
To persevere if the experiment gets off to a stuttering start.
After all, Girard’s men finished a 14th a year before their historic triumph.