Late business means Sheffield United expectations need to be realistic - Alan Biggs

You can replace good players if you are lucky and your judgment is good.
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The latter is unquestioned at Sheffield United while ever Paul Mitchell heads up recruitment and credit where due to the club for finally pushing through some potentially good deals.

You need a measure of luck to go with that wisdom for players to adjust and measure up to those who have left.

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Cameron Archer and Gustavo Hamer, on their talent, look to have as good a chance of cushioning the loss of Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge as anyone. And the deadline day return of James McAtee, albeit on loan, is also a big boost.

Sheffield United's recruitment and talent spotter Paul Mitchell at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis / SportimageSheffield United's recruitment and talent spotter Paul Mitchell at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Sheffield United's recruitment and talent spotter Paul Mitchell at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

What Paul Heckingbottom can’t replace, though, is lost time.

Three games in and no points is an unnecessary, if not insurmountable, handicap for an already uphill mission.

If the changes had happened mid-summer - or preferably not at all - the Blades would have been far better placed.

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So I can’t go along with anyone who suggests the club is actually in a stronger position after their completion of two admittedly impressive signings, plus that arrival of McAtee.

Previous swoops for the likes of Rhian Brewster and Lys Mousset have shown that potential doesn’t necessarily convert when players step up a level, for whatever reason.

Not that I have any doubts over the ability of Archer and Hamer to do so.

It’s just that we have to be careful to keep expectations of manager and team in absolute perspective.

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Yes, they might stay in the Premier League and I hope they do.

I’d certainly back them to make a fight of it, based not least on an heroic effort in defeat to Manchester City.

But we have to remember where these signings are pitched, just as they were the last time United came up in 2019.

They have acquired predominantly players for development.

Also players who can most definitely help the club bid for an instant return to the Premier League if they drop this season (although Archer is on buy back terms with Aston Villa).

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United also have the management team in place for such a task.

So it’s not all bad news, far from it, providing nobody wavers and no owner, current or new, makes an idiotic decision to disturb what’s in place.

That’s where we have to look beyond results, however uncomfortable and however great the temptation to wave some sort of magic wand.

You’ve set a course for the long term future, hold your nerve and stick to it.

Only the infusion of finance greater than anyone can currently envisage can change any of this.

Strap in and enjoy the ride, knowing that next season, in whatever division, should be an exciting one.