Sheffield United issued a statement of intent by refusing to sell their most valuable players during the transfer window, manager Chris Wilder has insisted, as his team chases back to back promotions.
Four new players, including Ricky Holmes and Ryan Leonard, arrived at Bramall Lane before Wednesday’s deadline while Mark Duffy and leading goalscorer Leon Clarke both agreed new contracts.
But Wilder, whose side are seventh in the table ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Championship leaders Wolves, highlighted the continued presence of David Brooks and John Fleck as a sign United are serious about reaching the top-flight less than a year after lifting the League One title.
“I believed it sent out a message,” Wilder said. “There’s always conversations and some I am only privy too. But I have made my point pretty clear and stood firm on the fact that we are trying to build and want to keep our best players.
“Sometimes, that gets taken out of your hands. I am not being critical of people offering ridiculous money, but you see the likes of Fulham turning down bids of whatever for players. They will have their reasons.
“There was never any concrete bids, but there were enquiries and talk. The biggest thing is we kept all our players, added to them and moved players on who we feel need to go and play football. We have had some good windows and we are only into the fourth one.”
As The Star reported earlier this season, a Premier League club intimated they were willing to pay over £10m to acquire Brooks’ services after watching him impress for United and Wales. Wilder, who later confirmed the veracity of the story but refused to name the team, said: “Are we better equipped to try and finish the job? That’s a difficult one to talk about really as finishing the job off was staying in the division.
“But the expectation has changed, we would love to achieve and I don’t think we could have done any more to add to the group and keep and reward those involved. It is for other people to comment, but I don’t think we could have done any more with what we have had to do.”