Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder's message ahead of the transfer window
Chris Wilder has stressed the importance of strengthening the options at his disposal to Sheffield United’s board of directors, as the club prepares for one of the most important transfer windows in its recent history.
With Premier League set to reopen for business on Wednesday, United remarkably find themselves in contention for European qualification after gaining promotion from the Championship only eight months ago.
Although Wilder has publicly downplayed their chances of a top six finish, the United manager privately believes his squad can maintain their current trajectory by acquiring a small number of high-calibre players.
He relayed that message to owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud during a meeting in Dubai, with the Saudi Arabian’s son-in-law and chairman HRH Prince Musa’ad bin Khalid bin Musa’ad bin Abdulrahman Al Saud recently confirming money will be placed at the coaching staff’s disposal.
“I’ve talked to the board,” Wilder said. “We do need to strengthen. We’ve tried to do that in every window.
“We’ve not got the world to spend but whatever the board give me, I’ll try to maximise to bolster the squad for competition for places and make the club as strong as we can.”
Speaking before United’s visit to Manchester City, Wilder used the story of how Pep Guardiola’s employers rose from the old Second Division to become one of the most powerful sides in world football to highlight the importance of seizing opportunities.
Whilst acknowledging he can only spend a fraction of what City and other established top-flight sides can afford to budget for recruitment, the 52-year-old is determined United should give themselves the best possible chance of building upon the progress they have made of late. Failing to do so, Wilder believes, would represent a major and, in time, potentially costly mistake.
“Whatever football club you are at, you need to keep moving forward,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who or where you are. You can’t stand still in this business. You’ve got to try and keep pushing.”
After focusing primarily on British and Irish talent during his three-and-a-half seasons in charge, Wilder could look further afield over the coming weeks. Indeed, after advertising for a new player liason officer, some of the duties United want the successful candidate to fulfil include opening bank accounts, arranging national insurance numbers and organising language lessons.
With defence and midfield known to be priority positions, United are combining their search with talks aimed at securing the futures of John Lundstram, John Egan and Enda Stevens. There have also been calls for Wilder himself to be handed a new contract, with his counterparts at Brighton and Hove Albion and Aston Villa all being awarded improved terms of late.
Confirming United will allow players to depart to make room for new arrivals, Wilder said: “They’ll be two or three going out, that possibly need to ply their trade and play football elsewhere, which they understand.”