Like everyone else, he has marvelled at their spending and been mesmerised by the maths.
But as he prepares for this evening visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers, Lee Evans is refusing to be intimidated by his former club’s power in the transfer market.
“He, the gaffer, stresses that to us numerous times,” the Sheffield United midfielder said. “That others can spend what they like but, at the end of the day, it’s eleven versus eleven. If you look at their starting line-up on the night, they will have spent however many millions. But we know, with our team and our system, we can cause any team a problem. It’s down to us to turn-up.”
Evans, aged 23, joined United during last month’s transfer window following five years at Molineux. With the visitors seventh in the Championship and Nuno Espírito Santo’s side boasting a double digit lead over their nearest rivals, the match is not only a battle between two promotion chasing teams. It is also, given Chris Wilder’s recruitment policy, a clash of polar opposite styles.
“As the manager alludes to, he shops in a different market to a lot of the others,” Evans, who started his career with Newport County, continued. “But here, we take a different route. The manager will look at players who have done well in League One as well and give them an opportunity. Then it’s up to us to prove he was right to do that. I still know I’ve got a lot to prove here.”
Evans, who started the season on loan with Wigan Athletic, is among 12 new players signed by Wilder since last summer’s promotion celebrations. Nearly half of those, including Ricky Holmes, George Baldock and Ryan Leonard, arrived from clubs below the Championship. Espírito Santo, by contrast, has lavished nearly £40m on his squad after being appointed in May. The results are evident but, after losing at Bramall Lane five months ago, Wolves know finance does not always decide football matches.
Evans, a casualty of the Portuguese’s high-profile recruitment strategy, said: “I think I had a fair crack. I’m not going to sit here and blame other people for my time at Wolves. I was in and out a bit but there’s no axe to grind. I’m just looking forward to the game. It should be a great one.”
“Different managers gave me new contracts when I was there,” he added. “There were managers who played me more than others but that’s football. It was just time to move on. The attitude is to do well for Sheffield United. I’m not too fussed about anything else. Fans will have their opinions about me and they are entitled to have those. Hopefully, if I get the nod I can do a good job for us.”
Evans, who won his first cap for Wales earlier this term, is among a trio of ex-Wolves players expected to feature in United’s starting eleven as they attempt to bounce back from Tuesday’s defeat by Aston Villa.
“There’s me, Richard Stearman and Leon Clarke all going back to a ground where we’ve played and had success,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. There’s a lot of people behind the scenes that helped me a lot for however many years I was there but, to be honest, my only focus is doing a job for Sheffield United.”
“The quality of the players here has really impressed me,” Evans added. “We’ve got a really good squad. There’s no better year than this year to have a real good crack at it. There’s boys not even getting on the bench here who would easily play for other clubs. The strength in depth is there.”