The week off might have come at a good time for United after the recent dodgy spell of two defeats and a draw.
It gives the new signings time to find their way round Shirecliffe and Bramall Lane and learn their teammates’ names, nuances and niceties without the pressure of preparing for an imminent game. Their arrival gives Chris Wilder more options but also selection headaches, which all managers say they like, not always with conviction.
As always when new players come in, some of those already in the squad must wonder where it leaves them. From the outside it appears that Samir Carruthers has been brought in as direct competition for Mark Duffy, so what now for Stefan Scougall? James Hanson can only play one role, and having seen him play that way for Bradford many times against us, he does it really effectively. The only other physical striker we have is Leon Clarke, so where does he stand now? And Matt Done, Caolan Lavery and Marc McNulty must have dropped a peg down the order. Can Wilder keep them all happy?
The signing of Jay O’Shea is more intriguing as United currently don’t have a player of his type. He’s not full of trickery like Duffy, nor is he someone to pick the ball up from the defenders like Paul Coutts and John Fleck like to do. O’Shea is an attacking midfield player with an excellent scoring record for someone in his position. How will he fit in? In place of Coutts or Fleck, or coming off the bench late on to challenge tired defenders to complement Duffy or Carruthers?
They all come to the Lane with United on a relative low. But providing things can be corrected quickly, it’s by no means a crisis. Was it a crisis from early February to the middle of March in 2006 when United won just once in eight matches? (By the way, that win was at Hillsborough!) It seemed like it at the time, but obviously it was not as Neil Warnock’s team won promotion with four games to spare, finishing eleven points clear of third. I reckon Chris Wilder’s team is made from the same mould.
It’s a shame to see Aaron Ramsdale leave, but the reality is that United have to be a selling club because of the league position they’re in and the overheads they’ve got. The club has to be self-sustaining and selling three young players since last August for a combined £5 or £6 million is the only way that can happen. Unfortunate, but true.