Sheffield United: Boss looks north of the border in the transfer market

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, views Scotland as a potential source of new signings as he attempts to circumnavigate some of the financial hurdles he faces in this summer’s transfer market.

Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 11:43 am

Read More

Read More
James Shield: Sheffield United's latest big idea makes sense, but is also a huge...

It is a policy several of his predecessors at Bramall Lane have followed, albeit with mixed results, in the past as they attempted to exploit the financial disparity between the game north of the border and in the English Football League.

But Heckingbottom, having spent time in charge of Hibernian before replacing Slavisa Jokanovic seven months ago, is confident his knowledge of the Scottish Premier League can help United avoid some of the mistakes of the past - the most costly of which being a decision not to pursue an interest in then St Mirren midfielder John McGinn who had been lined-up for a move to South Yorkshire by Nigel Clough.

Sign up to our Sheffield United newsletter

Paul Heckingbottom (left) the Sheffield United manager: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

The big mistake

Having already recruited Stefan Scougall from Livingston, the former Derby County chief was pressurised by certain members of the club’s hierarchy at the time to follow other lines of enquiry in the transfer market because, as one source told The Star at the time, they felt United’s team would be “too small” to compete in League One. McGinn now represents Aston Villa and has been capped 47 times by his country, scoring 12 goals in the process.

The evidence

Having spent two of the last three seasons in the Premier League, Heckingbottom is convinced United are now better positioned to lure some of the SPL’s finest proven talents to South Yorkshire. Although he will not focus exclusively on the Scottish market - or indeed even prioritise it - the 44-year-old has already made his intentions clear by monitoring Josh Doig, who moved to Easter Road from Heart of Midlothian during his time in Edinburgh.

Josh Doig is wanted by a host of clubs. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group

Heckingbottom also held talks with Hearts’ John Souttar in January, before the centre-half reached an agreement with Rangers.

With United losing to Nottingham Forest in last month’s play-offs, coaching staff are aware they will be unable to secure all of the targets they had identified before the end-of-term knockouts with Steve Cooper’s men also thought to admire Doig.

Crucially, Stuart McCall, Heckingbottom’s assistant, also enjoys an extensive knowledge of the SPL having previously worked at Rangers and Motherwell.

Stuart McCall has an extensive knowledge of the Scottish market: David Klein / Sportimage