'We needed players for now' - What Prince Abdullah said about Sheffield United's recruitment under Chris Wilder, including Rhian Brewster from Liverpool
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The Prince’s comments come after Alan Knill, Wilder’s No.2 during a successful spell in South Yorkshire that saw United rise from League One to the Premier League in three seasons, was offered an administrative position at Bramall Lane that would see him become a director of football.
Knill, who believes his best work is done on the training ground, is thought to have turned down the role.
United spent in the summer in an attempt to build on last season’s ninth-placed finish in the Premier League, bringing back goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from relegated Bournemouth and making Liverpool striker Rhian Brewster their new record signing in a deal that could have been worth as much as £23.5m with add-ons.
But Brewster has yet to find the back of the net for the Blades since his move, and the two loan signings that Wilder was promised in January did not materialise.
"We talked about the January transfer window just before the Southampton game. I felt good after the meeting and I gave him assurances. I went back to Saudi, I felt good," Prince Abdullah said in an interview with Sky.
"Then after we lost to Crystal Palace at the beginning of January, Stephen [Bettis, United’s CEO] called me and told me Chris wanted to resign. I felt it was my mistake because we recruited how Chris wanted, we spent over £120m.
"Liverpool and Tottenham have two forwards, we have six. The new coach may not want six forwards and we spent around £60m on them.
“I think Brewster and Ramsdale will be very good signings. Ramsdale is already turning the corner and playing well. Him and Brewster will be the cornerstone of the team next year and the years after. I’m not talking about the two players.
“We needed players to help us this season, not in the future. We don’t see the players we missed on, like the ones suggested by the board for very reasonable value. One of them is having a great season in Germany.
“I thought we should be more open about recruitment; we shouldn’t limit ourselves to one market.
“I needed recruitment to change and Chris to be more open minded. There will be no director of football next season or the season after.
“But when it comes to recruitment, it can’t be: ‘My way or the highway’ every time. Only these players and no-one else. We needed to have options.”
In the explosive interview, in which the Blades owner also appeared to suggest his former manager did not take enough responsibility when things began to turn for his side, the Blades owner broke his silence on Wilder’s departure by mutual consent – claiming that his former manager TWICE tried to quit the Blades before he eventually left earlier this month – and wanted a £4million pay-off when he offered his resignation.
Wilder has not publicly commented on his United exit since it was announced, and declined the invitation to respond to Prince Abdullah’s claims.