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James Shield's Sheffield United Column: Why tearing a page out of the Italian's playbook is not a bad idea

Sheffield United should copy Internazionale and Juventus
Sheffield United should copy Internazionale and Juventus
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Okay, I might be a little bit late to the party.

Perhaps, given my dislike for companies that indulge in tax avoidance, guilty of hypocrisy too.

But it somehow seems fitting, following Tuesday's friendly against Internazionale, to bestow this week's column with an Italian flavour. Recommend Netflix's docuseries 'First Team'. Analyse how it might provide some lessons for Sheffield United during the new Championship season and beyond.
The programme, for those of you even more behind the times than me, focuses on Juventus; La Vecchia Signora, the grand old lady of Serie A and compulsive trophy hunters. Admittedly, it could be described as propaganda. The awe-struck tone of the narrator, at least in the English-speaking version, can grate at times.
But, amid all the spin, there are some fascinating insights into the methods the Piedmontese employ to encourage its players to aspire to greatness and, perhaps even more importantly, view their employers as più di un club.
One scene, in the very first episode if my memory is correct, reflects on a certain individual's progression through the youth system and into Massimiliano Allegri's squad. Upon his graduation, Claudio Marchisio, since appointed vice-captain, points out a shirt he signed that was framed on a wall alongside those worn by others who had completed the same journey. United do something similar at the Steelphalt Academy, where images of Kyle Walker, Harry Maguire, Stephen Quinn, Phil Jagielka and others adorn its canteen. The difference at Juventus is, rather than simply scribble their autograph across the chest, Marchisio and his fellow alumni are required to include a message about what I Bianconeri mean to them. It is a simple but delightfully intelligent touch. A superb way of reaffirming this famous institution's values and, because their words are bound to resonate, ensures they are cherished, passed down through the generations and protected. Inter, with their 'brothers of the world' motto, also recognise the importance of preserving traditions.
Every club has its own distinct personality. United and Sheffield Wednesday, their arch-rivals across the city, are perfect examples of how two teams from the same region can view and portray themselves very differently.
So, while it would be no bad thing to pilfer Juventus' idea, why not take things a step further? Give their concept a red and white twist. Tony Currie, who had a stand renamed in his honour before the meeting with Inter, could spend half an hour with every new signing to tell them what United means to him. The same goes for Len Badger and Ted Hemsley, who together with their former team mate are still regular visitors to Bramall Lane. Supporters could even volunteer their services too.
Like recognising Currie's achievements, it is something I have proposed countless times in the past. And hopefully, just like recognising Currie, it also comes true.