Okay, so manager Nigel Adkins might not agree but Sheffield United should welcome FIFA’s insistence that, at the end of this season, English football bolts shut the emergency loan window for good.
And not because an organisation which should govern the beautiful game, rather than serve as a vanity project for its narcissistic leader and his sycophantic cabal, has finally been a force for good instead of greed.
Now, I don’t deny that preventing clubs from borrowing players during the build-up to the festive period, and then from February to March, won’t cause some problems. Particularly for those living hand-to-mouth existences in leagues one and two. But, let’s be frank, very few of the signings being made or planned right now are responses to actual emergencies. The phrase ‘First World Problems’ springs to mind.
From next season on, if teams fail to recruit reinforcements before the deadline for permanent acquisitions, they will be forced to get by. Or, and here’s a revolutionary idea, promote some of the youngsters in their youth and academy systems. I know, I know. Heaven forbid.
Sarcasm aside, this could be the Bramall Lane equivalent of Arsenal’s ‘FFP Moment’. Albeit, hopefully, with longer lasting benefits and results. The event which sees United reap significant rewards from their decision to invest time, money and expertise in youth. Too many of their rivals, despite lots of well-meaning mission statements and PR guff, do nothing of the sort. As a comment, posted online after last week’s under-19 international between England and Germany in Bergisch Gladbach, demonstrated only too well.
Bemoaning the fact that too few of those involved in the 3-2 victory over Marcus Sorg’s side were being granted opportunities at top-flight level, it ignored the sterling work being conducted further down the pyramid. Take United’s very own Louis Reed who started on the bench but has already accumulated more senior appearances (31) than eight of those in the visitors’ first choice eleven combined. Lewis Cook of Leeds (41) was the most experienced member of an otherwise callow bunch.
So, going forward, there’s a lesson to be learned by young players and their parents as well as clubs. Joining Manchester City or Chelsea might carry a certain cachet. But learning your trade at somewhere like United, be it Sheffield or Leeds, will enhance your long-term prospects.