The reasons behind Sheffield United's transfer stance and what they do from here
It didn’t come as any great surprise, given the mood music coming out of the Steelphalt Academy in recent days and sight of Chris Wilder and his coaching staff working on a variety of what he has described as “in house solutions” to the Jack O’Connell problem.
But, speaking to journalists at his latest media briefing this morning, the Sheffield United manager officially confirmed what everyone suspected - there will be no new arrivals ahead of today’s 5pm deadline for transfers from English Football League clubs.
“The players who are in the building are the ones we will be going with,” Wilder said. “They are the players who will take us through to January.”
United have been active in the recruitment market since the window reopened, signing the likes of Jayden Bogle, Max Lowe, Aaron Ramsdale and Rhian Brewster - who could make his debut against Fulham on Sunday.
Brewster became the most expensive player in United’s history when he completed a £23.5m move from Liverpool earlier this month, and his presence, Wilder is utterly convinced, will help equip them with a greater cutting edge in front of goal.
But it was the business of stopping them going in at the other end of the pitch which had prompted Wilder to scour the Championship for another defender when it became apparent O’Connell’s performance levels had deteriorated to such an extent, his damaged knee required surgery.
Huddersfield Town’s Terence Kongolo and Ben Davies of Preston North End were identified as potential candidates to provide cover and competition for Jack Robinson, now the only left footed half at Wilder’s disposal. But United’s efforts to land either have been complicated by a number of factors.
They include money, which is in shorter supply than usual because of social distancing measures introduced in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rather than spending the afternoon in talks with Davies - this weekend’s visitors to South Yorkshire took advantage of United’s procrastination to jump ahead of them in the race for Kongolo - Wilder and his assistant Alan Knill will instead run through the system or personnel changes which could be required should Robinson also become unavailable for selection.
They include either switching to a flat back four or, perhaps more likely, deploying Enda Stevens in the middle and deploying Lowe at wing-back.