Chris Wilder on being 'smart' and 'selling' Sheffield United to new loan signings amid a competitive Championship market - and why he has earned the right to be trusted on recruitment

IN A summer transfer window when Sheffield United are unlikely to come armed with an ‘open cheque book’ as Chris Wilder puts it, being smart and ‘selling’ the club well will have to be pitch-perfect.

Speaking of selling, speculation continues to do the rounds regarding the Blades’ future. An American consortium of Silicon Valley-based private investors recently reignited their interest in purchasing the club, according to reports.

United have been here before - several times - and until something concrete happens, Wilder must deal with the cards he is dealt with following the club’s relegation.

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To paraphrase a well-known chant sung by Unitedites over the years, the club ‘ain’t got a barrel of money’ as it stands.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA WireSheffield United manager Chris Wilder. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire
Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder. Photo: Zac Goodwin/PA Wire

What they have displayed in the past, both under Wilder and Paul Heckingbottom, is the innate skill to persuade some leading young talents from the Premier League to come to the equivalent of finishing school at Bramall Lane.

The likes of Dean Henderson, Morgan Gibbs-White, Tommy Doyle and James McAtee have all excelled in the past and developed both as players and people in the process.

The report cards back to their parent clubs were positive ones and enhanced United’s reputation for being a place where emerging top-flight players are not only looked after, but developed.

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When those in the big time decide, usually after their pre-season tours, as to which of their top young stars will be loaned out this summer, Wilder is intent upon putting his club at the front of the queue.

The competition will be fierce. But United have been here before. Their record is strong and up there with the best.

Wilder said: "I do think the top loan signings will have opportunities and options, so we have to ‘sell’ (the club).

"I want players to come to us for the right reasons. They won’t be coming because we have blown teams out of the water financially.

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"They will come because of ambition and hopefully because of who they are working with from a coaching and managing point of view and the ambition of the club and the players who will still be here to drive it on.

"We are going to have to be really smart with this and I feel we can be one of the outstanding clubs in the Championship for young players to come to. We must make sure we don’t overuse that system, but I think it’s important."

Bringing in stellar young talent will form only one strand of a window which will represent the first part of a wider major reset of a United squad which will take time before it is completed. Certainly more than one window.

Age has dictated that several stalwarts and players who have served the club supremely well have come to the end of their time at the club. They were not just mere players, but strong dressing-room voices, into the bargain.

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The likes of Ollie Norwood, Chris Basham and George Baldock have departed, while it remains to be seen if others such as John Egan, Ben Osborn and Oli McBurnie stay beyond the end of their current deals, which expire shortly.

Fortunately, United do possess contracted players to build what will effectively amount to a new-look team around in Gus Hamer, Ollie Arblaster and Jayden Bogle to name but three.

Bringing in some hardened Championship nous to supplement those types of players - alongside the high-calibre loanees whom Wilder wants - will be a major consideration.

Fortunately, Wilder has shown he can be trusted in that regard.

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Ahead of his first season in charge in 2016-17, Wilder brought in not just important players but leaders in the likes of Jack O’Connell, John Fleck and Mark Duffy.

Other less heralded names such as Jake Wright and Leon Clarke also made key contributions in that 2016-17 League One title-winning season.

A strong dressing room chemistry was formed alongside a winning mentality in a remarkably short space of time.

On this latest rebuild, Wilder added: "The group needs to be balanced with that fresh hunger in all players. There will be some young players that will hopefully stay with us for a few years, but there has to be a sprinkling of leadership and experience as I don’t believe we’ll achieve anything if we just have a really young group.

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"There’s some players who people won’t understand why we have done those signings or committed to them, but there will be a reason.

"This isn’t fantasy football and Championship football on a laptop and going bang, bang. We’ve got to fit it all together like a jigsaw - in terms of the physical, ability and mentality point of view.

"Mentally, some of the younger players wont be a finished article, but hopefully with two or three older boys we bring into the group with an experience of winning and playing in the Championship and leadership, we can get that to gel and make it a really powerful, exciting group that really goes well."