Sheffield United’s failure to gain promotion is likely to lead to some big changes at Bramall Lane, writes James Shield. Clawing themselves out of League One next season will not be easy. But here are ten things the South Yorkshire club can do to give themselves the best possible chance.
MAKE A QUICK MANAGERIAL APPOINTMENT: Whoever is installed as Danny Wilson’s permanent successor, be it Chris Morgan or someone else, they should ideally be at the helm before the transfer window reopens. If uncertainty is allowed to linger, United risk missing-out on potential targets. The majority of business must be completed before pre-season.
DECIDE WHAT THEY WANT TO BE: The likes of Swansea and Southampton have punched above their weight of late. Why? Because they established a set of footballing principles and stuck rigidly to them despite experiencing a change in personnel.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT MAN: The manager in charge of United next season must be capable of giving the club a sense of identity. And direction. Possess the strength of character required not to be swayed by public opinion and make the signings they believe can make a difference.
BE IMAGINATIVE: Rather than look towards household names, the powers-that-be should continue to explore new markets. Many of their rivals, most notably Brentford, have even recruited from non-league. And who can say Simon Moore has wilted under pressure? Get players whose careers are on an upward curve.
SET A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT: Sometimes, United have been guilty of doing the wrong things for the right reasons. Like making knee-jerk acquisitions just before a transfer deadline. Refusing to relax the purse strings will force coaching staff to think doubly hard about who they buy and prevent confrontation between bootroom and boardroom.
ACCEPT THEY ARE A LEAGUE ONE CLUB: Administrators, commentators and supporters alike have often been seduced by glamorous names. Instead, focus on capturing the best players from leagues One and Two who have a track record of success at this level. Worry about the Championship later.
USE THE LOAN MARKET WISELY: United suffered from a shortage of goals last term. There are some gifted youngsters on the books of Premier League clubs who, providing the terms and conditions are right, could provide the type of quality which might otherwise be out of reach.
HAVE A HEART TO HEART WITH THE CURRENT SQUAD: Find out who wants to stay and who would rather go. Those who might be swayed by offers from elsewhere should be shipped-out at the earliest possible opportunity. Those who remain must be told that only in exceptional circumstances will they be allowed to leave before the end of the season.
INSIST PLAYERS LIVE NEARBY: Everyone who signs for United must provide a commitment they will move to the region rather than stay in a hotel. If they can’t, then they don’t come. Simple. That should improve spirit and camaraderie behind the scenes.
BE PROUD: There has been too much self-pity around Bramall Lane of late and sometimes a misguided sense of entitlement. United were dealt a huge blow at Yeovil. But they remain a wonderful club with talented people both on the pitch and behind the scenes. The return of Shaun Miller and Diego De Girolamo from injury will provide a boost.