Sheffield United: Chris Wilder is ready to turn the tables and get tough in the transfer market
It is one of the more unedifying aspects of football management. A practise which picks away at the polished veneer now surrounding the profession and reveals it for being the ruthless, cut-throat business it actually is.
But as Sheffield United press ahead with their preparations for the new Premier League season after being promoted last term, manager Chris Wilder is ready to exploit the financial pressures facing many Championship clubs by offering them a route out of the Profit and Sustainability nightmare.
Although the 51-year-old submitted his list of summer targets to Bramall Lane's hierarchy last week, sources close to United's recruitment department confirm they have also been told to identify which second tier teams will be forced to organise firesales in order to comply with the EFL's regulations.
Swansea City's Oli McBurnie and Neal Maupay of Brentford are both persons of interest, with Middlesbrough's Britt Assombalonga viewed as another potential acquisition. But Wilder has also briefed his coaching staff on the need to gather intelligence about where, for one reason or another, directors are preparing to wield the axe and slash budgets.
The thinking behind his decision is that fresh possibilities are likely to present themselves over the coming weeks. Wilder expects a number of sides outside of the top-flight, particularly those who gambled on promotion, to trim their squads between now and August's deadline. After leading his employers back to the highest level for the first time since 2007, Wilder is now in a position to take advantage.
Despite their success on the pitch, United have experienced more than their fair share of frustration in the transfer market over the past 12 months. Scott Hogan's loan move from Aston Villa, which was supposed to be scheduled for August, eventually took until January to process because the funds at Wilder's disposal were small beer compared to those enjoyed by the centre-forward's parent club. After failing to command a regular place in United's starting eleven, securing Hogan's services on a permanent basis is no longer a priority. But Queens Park Rangers' Luke Freeman, who Wilder has also tried to sign on several occasions in the past, is now within reach. Mark Warburton, the Londoners' new manager, would doubtless play hard-ball if United choose to make another official approach. Crucially, though, Wilder is unlikely to baulk at the asking price. Ollie Watkins, Maupay's team mate at Griffin Park, has also been linked with United.
With Hogan and his fellow loanee Gary Madine both departing at the end of the campaign, United will attempt to sign at least two new strikers before the end of the window. An attacking midfielder, capable of providing competition for Mark Duffy, is also set to arrive while cover is also required at wing-back.
Negotiations with Manchester United, aimed at bring Dean Henderson back to Bramall Lane, are continuing with Wilder confident of a positive outcome.