Alan Biggs' Sheffield United Column: Talk over move for old boy Phil Jagielka sets tongues wagging

The focus is rightly on who Sheffield United sign for their first Premier League campaign in 13 years.

By Alan Biggs
Wednesday, 05 June, 2019, 16:49
Phil Jagielka. Peter Byrne/PA Wire.

But it won’t necessarily decide whether they stay up or not.

In fact, I’d argue that the most important elements are already in place – and have been across Chris Wilder’s three years of two promotions.

Only if, by some mishap, signings weaken the powerful group chemistry will they be the most influential factors.

Preferably, they will add their quality and experience to it.

Fair to say the Bramall Lane dressing room is casting a weather eye over the talked-about candidates.

And it’s not only for reasons of self-preservation that players will be taking a keen interest.

Because it’s clear they don’t feel the team’s fate will necessarily depend upon it.

Even in the lull between partying and action, when nobody can be sure of the activity to come, skipper Billy Sharp sums up the general mood: “We’ve got a good feeling that we’re going to be alright.”

It’s said matter-of-factly, without arrogance but with a confidence borne of the bond that exists between players, some of whom have come up two divisions together.

“It goes along with proving people wrong,” chips in George Baldock, recalling the doubts over whether some players would “cut it in the Championship” after promotion from League One.

“I’m sure it’ll be the same again.

“But the group of lads here just don’t let anyone down.”

Sharp takes up the theme: “We will bring players in to make us stronger and probably people with Premier League experience.

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“That’ll help us and I think we do need that.

“But I think we will keep the core together.

“It’s what we’re about, it’s why we do well together.

“We’re a group that’s willing to learn and improve. It’s something our assistant manager, Alan Knill, has drilled into us every day on the training pitch.

“We’re obviously going to have to do that again to step up to the Premier League.”

Baldock echoes: “Identifying yourself as a Premier League player, that’s when the real hard work starts.”

The important thing is that they accept and take on that identity – quickly.

New players won’t turn United into a Premier League outfit.

The group will have to do that for themselves.

Mind you, some of that “Premier League experience” referenced by Sharp won’t go amiss.

And it’s no wonder Phil Jagielka’s departure from Everton after 12 years has set tongues wagging about the next move for the former Blades star.

Only speculation at this stage but you certainly wouldn’t dismiss it out of hand.