Joe Crann: It’s not about agents or Celtic – Sheffield Wednesday just need to do better

After the news was officially confirmed this week, Wednesday said that they are ‘currently investigating this matter and will consider if there are any further steps available to protect the club’s interest’.

By Joe Crann
Thursday, 11th March 2021, 7:59 pm

There has been no suggestion that Celtic have done anything wrong with regards to their approach and signing of a precontract with Liam Shaw going by the book as they waited until the versatile 19-year-old was into the last six months of his Hillsborough deal before making their move.

It’s been met with plenty of disappointment, obviously. But rather than just pointing fingers at Celtic or at Shaw’s agent, I hope that lessons are being learned and steps taken to avoid similar circumstances going forward.

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The chairman said in a recent press conference, “When he had a chance to play for the first team, he did quite well and we tried to keep him… We talked to them for quite a long time but they just asked to wait and we know why they asked to wait because maybe they were trying to find another club.

“I heard from my people, they told me some fans say ‘why didn’t we try to sign him last year or before’.

“I believe no-one last year, or before in the summer, no-one talked about Liam Shaw. They just tried to talk about him when he is in the first XI and he is doing okay.

“We tried to extend his contract but the agent asked to wait and wait. We knew something was wrong and it’s normal in football.”

Liam Waldock and Liam Shaw celebrate after winning the PDL2 National Play-Off Final at Hillsborough.

And he’s right. One year ago Shaw wasn’t putting in first team performances that would suggest to fans that he should be tied down on a long-term deal, but you’d like to think that there were people behind the scenes who knew his potential – Neil Thompson has certainly spoken about how he’s impressed on his way through the ranks. Also, he made it onto the first team bench for the first time back in 2018.

But there’s a risk of it happening again, isn’t there?

Osaze Urhoghide is now coming to the end of his contract at Hillsborough, and has – understandably, given his performances – started to attract interest.

He’s not entertaining any of it for now, even though he’s allowed to, but if he was to leave on a free then it would, for me, look worse than Shaw’s exit.

Because rewind a year, and people had seen first hand what ‘Big O’ can do. He had an up and down start to life in the senior setup, with highs in Brighton and Leeds to disappointment against Blackburn Rovers, but what teenager hasn’t?

Urhoghide showed his ability over a year ago, he’s since gone on to show serious improvements in his game as he becomes more confident and sure of himself – in my opinion, he should never have gotten into the last six months of his contract.

It doesn’t seem like Wednesday do long-term contracts for their youngsters, which I understand are a risk in case somebody doesn’t fulfil their potential, but sometimes you’ve got to back the special ones – at least then there’s a financial benefit if they move on.

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