Nigel Adkins is prepared to use the loan market as he targets promotion to the Championship in his first season at Sheffield United.
The ambitious Blades splashed out on transfers last season, with the likes of John Brayford and Matt Done arriving at Bramall Lane under Nigel Clough.
But United’s failure in the League One play-offs cost Clough his job, and now his replacement Adkins hopes to go one better next season.
He will assess the current squad when they return for pre-season training on June 29 before deciding where United need to strengthen.
And while the Blades boss will still have a healthy transfer budget with which to play, Adkins accepts smart use of the loan window can prove vital.
Last season, for example, Preston North End brought in former Leeds United striker Jermaine Beckford – a player Adkins knows well from their time together at Scunthorpe United – and his goals helped the Lancashire club beat the Blades in the promotion race.
“You look at successful teams in the Championship and League One, they have utilised the loan market extremely well,” said Adkins.
“Because the finances are becoming greater and greater, to buy somebody and pay the full wages over a long period of time, it can be quite damaging to a football club.
“Using the loan market is something successful teams appear to be doing a lot more now, and that’s an avenue we can go down and explore to enhance the players that we have got.
“We need hungry, honest, hard-working people who all share the same common goal, to get promoted and get to the Championship.”
Adkins has gained promotion three times from League One – twice with Scunthorpe and again with Southampton.
While he insists instant promotion is United’s target, he accepts the battle to get out of League One will not be simple.
“Instant promotion? You can never say that,” said Adkins, 50. “But I am very, very ambitious and I have joined Sheffield United with an ambition that I want to be back managing in the Premier League. Although we are in League One now, we have to take one step at a time, and the first stage is getting ourselves from League One into the Championship.
“There is an ambition at this football club to do that. I would like to do it in the first year, but I am also very respectful of how challenging League One is.
“Having been in this division, other clubs will get that respect.
“But this is a big football club, in a big city, and we have been in this division for too long. The ambition has got to be to get us promoted this year, and in the meantime, keep building the building blocks to keep progressing the football club forward.
“The stature of the club at Sheffield United, we at least want to be in the next division. But we cannot in any way under-estimate any team in this division, because you do that at your peril.
“I know from my own experiences at Scunthorpe, we always went to the bigger clubs knowing we would be classed as the underdog. I know there is a lot of genuine, hard-working, talented football people at this level.”
Adkins inherits Clough’s squad, and while he did not see the Blades play live last season, he is hoping to quickly assess its strengths and weaknesses.
“We have had a lot of managers over the years and we have to have the continuity of building, so can keep progressing in a positive manner,” said Adkins, who had been out of management since departing Reading six months ago.
“A lot of players have been brought in over the last two years, I am aware of them, and watched them last year. Not live, I saw them on television.
“I am aware of several of the players and aware where we are.
“That awareness though is different to being on the training ground with them, and working with them on a one-on-one basis.
“We will give everyone an opportunity, get to work with them pre-season, and make an assessment of where we are – how we can improve them, because that’s what we have to do as individuals we have got here, or maybe bring in somebody to enhance the club.”
Adkins, speaking at a media day at Bramall Lane yesterday, is swiftly settling in to his new job after last week’s appointment.
He is not expecting a sudden rash of transfers though, and predicts some newcomers may not even arrive until the last few days of the summer transfer window.
“The players report back on June 29 so we will look at them very quickly,” he told The Yorkshire Post.
“I am going to take them away for a couple of days and ascertain where the players are.
“The transfer window right now is quite quiet. People are planting seeds, putting themselves in positions.
“When the players start coming back, maybe the week before pre-season, players then decide ‘I need to be at a club’.
“Throughout the course of pre-season there will be a lot of movement, but you will probably find that a lot of clubs do a lot of business – in respect of transfer deals – in the last two or three days leading up to transfer deadline day.
“That’s why you find that most clubs don’t do a team photograph until after transfer deadline day.”