This summer, when Sheffield United’s players head abroad in search of sand, sun and a drop of sangria, some will switch off their mobiles and avoid newspapers like the plague.
“The players needed that,” the United manager said after confirming the club’s transfer fund has been increased. “They need to see it, definitely.
“The better players want to see better players coming through the door. Because they know that makes them better players themselves.”
Co-owners Kevin McCabe and HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud approved Wilder’s recruitment budget before extending his contract earlier this week. Although the 50-year-old has warned supporters not to expect an influx of “head-turning” acquisitions, the decision does relieve the pressure on his shoulder’s to unearth under-valued gems in the bottom two divisions. It is a policy which has served Wilder well in the past but, after United mounted an unlikely top six challenge last term, must be revised if they are serious about reaching the Premier League. Opening the doors to proven second tier performers will have an effect closer to home too; convincing the club’s most coveted assets they can progress their careers in South Yorkshire.
“That’s what we need to do, “Wilder continued. “To show the likes of John Fleck, and other players that have done exceptionally well, that we mean business and we want to achieve things. It sends an important message out that we want to keep on improving and aren’t happy to relax or stand still.”
Despite admitting that some approaches will always prove impossible to ignore, Wilder has taken steps to stem the flow of talent away from United in recent seasons by ensuring the majority of his squad are tied to long-term deals.
“I think we’ve got something special here,” he said. “We want to keep on building it.”