Chris Wilder believes Sheffield United can get more out of John Brayford next term after describing him as the best full-back in League One.
Wilder made the claim after predicting that Brayford, who missed the end of last season due to a muscle injury, can establish a formidable partnership with Chris Hussey following the 27-year-old’s arrival at Bramall Lane.
Hussey completed his move from Bury on Wednesday evening and Wilder said: “We got wind of the fact there might be a situation whereby we could possible acquire Chris which we’ve done. In John Brayford, we feel we’ve got the best full-back in the division when he’s playing at the top of his game and that’s something we’ve got to get him back too.
“Chris gives us that balance. He’s got a great left foot, he likes to take the game to the opposition. The same as John on the other side of the pitch.”
Brayford, who cost a reported £1.5m after leaving Cardiff City 17 months ago, played only 21 games under Wilder’s predecessor Nigel Adkins. Wilder’s first task after taking charge was to release 10 and transfer list another seven members of the squad which finished 11th in the table last term.
Capturing Hussey, together with fellow new signing Mark Duffy, marks the start of the rebuilding process.
“Chris has got a great delivery,” Wilder said. “If we get into good positions, with set-plays, then we don’t want to waste them. Yes, you need good movement and people wanting to attack the ball. But it all starts with a good delivery.
“He’s at a stage now where he wants to take his career to the next level. He wants to take that next step and we feel he can do that.”
Wilder prioritised knowledge, attitude and experience when identifying his transfer targets. Despite only being appointed three weeks ago, United’s new manager has always been a regular visitor to their stadium and, privately at least, believes a lack of assertiveness contributed to the team’s failings during the previous campaign.
Hussey and Duffy are skilled but tenacious performers and possess an in-depth understanding of the challenges a 46 match competition can pose.
“I am a big believer in playing football from box to box and having control of the game and being positive,” Wilder said. “But ultimately, it is what happens in both boxes which decides outcomes of games. Those are the key areas where things get sorted-out.
“You want people who put their bodies on the line and goalkeepers to keep the ball out of the net. Do whatever it takes to make sure that happens.
“At the other end, if we show enough quality at the top of the pitch and good play to create chances, we have good enough players to score. It’s simple but, if you do that, effective. And that’s what football is all about.”