Sheffield United v Coventry City: Closure of window is welcomed with relief by Wilson

Jonathan Forte
Jonathan Forte
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IT is fair to say that Sheffield United boss Danny Wilson is no fan of the transfer window.

If trying to arrest a four-match winless streak in League One wasn’t bad enough, Wilson, whose side welcome Coventry City this evening, must instigate a fightback without his top scorer and leading light up front so far in 2012-13 in Nick Blackman, sold to Premier League outfit Reading in a £1.2m deal on Wednesday.

Wilson, handed some funds to bring in loan and short-term arrivals in the wake of Blackman’s exit – but little hard transfer cash – last night signed Jonathan Forte on loan from Southampton. The striker started his career at Bramall Lane.

The experienced Bramall Lane boss admits the timing of the departure of 14-goal Blackman was hardly ideal, but does accept that the club had little choice to take a pragmatic decision following a big seven-figure bid from the Royals.

What is also clear is that Wilson must now pick up the pieces with the window having done him few favours.

Cursing the window, he said: “In my opinion, it is wrong. People who have signed a £10m player might love it, while people who have lost a £1m player will not like it – like myself.

“Getting players in is very, very difficult and the timescale we have had is very annoying as your targets tend to go. When players leave this late in the window, it is hard to bring people in.

“Any goalscorer is difficult to replace and that is why they go for the money they do. When you nurture one, you always have one eye over your shoulder that someone is taking notice and, unfortunately, Reading have done that.

“To nurture a new player (striker) at this moment is not the right time. We want someone in with experience, but those players are at a premium.”

While many Blades supporters are somewhat disgruntled that most of the proceedings from the transfer of Blackman won’t be ploughed back into the team, Wilson feels realism is required given the fact the club, along with their League One rivals, are restricted to spending 65 per cent of turnover on players under the Salary Cost Management Protocol (SCMP) rules.

He added: “You have to be realistic about the situation. Since I came in here 18 months ago, we have tried to get the books balanced better, particularly with the wages SCMP, the bugbear for most teams outside the top two divisions.

“Getting it in order is very difficult. At the moment, we are under the limit and possibly, with one or two players, we will go over it and that is not going to be healthy. We have to be very, very careful and while it’s a frustration for everybody looking at it, if we get our injured players back, we are a different prospect again.”

Specifically on the exit of Blackman, he said: “Of course, I am sorry. He was our top-scorer.

“But we are in the real world. And in the position we find ourselves in, it is very difficult to ignore advances for your better players.

“In the time he played for us, he was fantastic and listened and learned a great deal from the coaching staff. He has the qualities to make it in the Premier League.”

Meanwhile, Wilson admits February is crunch time in the Blades’ quest for automatic promotion.

The sixth-placed Blades head into tonight’s clash without a league win since Boxing Day and, all told, they have won just once in their past six outings in all competitions.

The Blades have also lost back-to-back home games in the league – with the alarm bells ringing among many concerned supporters.

But Wilson is confident his side, who will jump up to third with victory over the Sky Blues, will bridge the eight-point gap that currently exists between themselves and the top two of Tranmere and Doncaster.

A big haul of points in the this month would seriously bolster their hopes, with the month kicking off with back-to-back Bramall Lane tests with play-off chasing duo Coventry and Crawley, with the Blades also facing fourth-placed Bournemouth alongside the relegation-threatened trio of Shrewsbury, Bury and Colchester – along with Leyton Orient.

Wilson added: “We are coming to the definitive part of the season and we cannot be cut adrift too much and must be on the shirt-tails of the top two.

“We have some big games coming up and seven games in February. Many of those games will change the pattern of the league and when the league changes, we want to be one of the movers. We have got a great incentive.”

Last time out: Sheffield United 0 Coventry City 1; Sat, October 30, 2010; The Championship.

Last six games: Sheffield United LDLWDL; Coventry City DWWLWL.

Referee: C Sarginson (Staffordshire).