Sheffield United Fan’s Column: Big money signings, John Brayford and the transfer window

John Brayford has left to join Burton Albion: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
John Brayford has left to join Burton Albion: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Chris Wilder was frustrated by his failure to sign three players and, like most people earning a living from football apart from agents and the press, he wishes the transfer window would either go away or be closed before the start of the season.

Even the window’s harshest critics cannot deny that it provides news and rumours galore, and even I found myself refreshing the laptop screen every few minutes.

It told me that United had signed Ben Heneghan, who I must admit I had not heard of, and Clayton Donaldson, who has been a good player at this level for several years. I always find it pleasing when United sign players who haven’t previously been ‘linked’ by the media, and Wilder did it again with these two, as he did earlier with George Baldock, Richard Stearman and Jamal Blackman.

I remember Donaldson when he was scoring goals for York City a dozen years ago, and hoped Danny Wilson might sign him from Crewe in 2011, but instead he went for Chris Porter and Donaldson moved to Brentford. There he helped destroy David Weir’s rabble early in the 2013/14 season and despite wining promotion with the Bees he turned down their new contract offer and signed for Birmingham, where he maintained his one-in-three career record. The question now is that at 33 has he still got what he used to have?

Seeing John Brayford leave was a bit of a pity, and the likelihood is that United had to pay him to leave so he would sign for Burton on a lower salary. Some might consider the whole Brayford episode since we signed him in January 2015 as a huge waste of money. When he came on loan a year earlier he was outstanding and most fans wanted him back, but not at that cost. If a League One club to afford to pay £1.5 million for a player and wages to match, surely it should have gone on a striker, especially as Cloughie signed Kieron Freeman at the same time. Nevertheless, when Clough was sacked it was a bit rich of Jim Phipps to criticise the amount of money Clough spent when Phipps was one of those who sanctioned his signings.

One thing’s for sure with Chris Wilder in charge – there’ll be no overpriced Brayford-like signings. If it’s correct that the most Wilder has spent on a player this summer is £700,000, it flies in the face of what many other Championship clubs are splashing out millions on average players. And it’ll be even more satisfying when Wilder proves that his way works just as well as the extravagance displayed elsewhere, at a fraction of the cost.