Sheffield United's key man amid swirling takeover talk - Alan Biggs

Takeovers can make or break a club. The important thing is that a club doesn’t break itself waiting for one.

By Alan Biggs
Wednesday, 8th June 2022, 11:45 am

So Sheffield United’s public outlining of plans for next season - a sure sign that the Henry Mauriss flagship isn’t docking anytime soon - is well advised.

Those plans may be relatively modest but carry what appears to be a genuine underlying intent to stop the boat from rocking.

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Sheffield United CEO Stephen Bettis, manager Paul Heckingbottom and chairman Yusuf Giansiracusa

Owners don’t like to spend money to the benefit of potential owners and the £115m sale provisionally agreed with the American businessman would effectively depreciate if the Blades splashed out in the meantime.

Then again, it’s become clear that Prince Abdullah does not have the resources to go on such a spree, hence entertaining a buy-out.

But a balance has to be struck and it seems to me that, for the time being, United have it about right. Providing they deliver on gaps to be plugged, new faces to freshen the squad and the long-awaited improvement to training facilities.

In a general and welcome climate of more realism, nobody is demanding or expecting a raft of marquee signings.

But fans do expect - and rightly - that the club will build on its promotion near miss; that there will be no stagnation.

When you think about it, that’s also to the benefit of the owners in safeguarding their asset.

Added to which supporters are being ever more careful in what they wish for and, with so little known of Mauriss, that is especially wise.

What hasn’t changed is manager Paul Heckingbottom digging in to try to ensure United don’t get dragged backwards - or, as chief executive Stephen Bettis put it, being “quite vocal” in the media.

Some reckoned the board had deliberately enlisted a “yes man” when Hecky was brought back to the helm.

That has proved to be far from the truth. In fact, he has become the third manager in succession to make challenging comments regarding all manner of issues but mostly the recruitment process.

Heckingbottom’s influence in steering the ship, takeover or no takeover, cannot be over-estimated.