Chris Wilder has responded to criticism of Sheffield United’s transfer policy by citing Harry Maguire as an example of what can be achieved by players who start their careers outside of the Premier League.
The Blades boss has strengthened last season’s promotion-winning squad with 10 new additions over the summer, with four arriving from clubs in the Championship.
Three of those signings – Luke Freeman, Callum Robinson and Oli McBurnie – saw the club break its transfer record.
Lys Mousset, who at the time was another club-record signing, Dean Henderson, Ravel Morrison, Phil Jagielka, Ben Osborn, Michael Verrips and Muhamed Besic have also joined the Blades.
The club’s business has prompted many commentators and experts to tip Sheffield United for relegation this season but Wilder pointed to Maguire – who began his career at Bramall Lane and this week joined Manchester United in an £80million move.
“We at a different level to every Premier League club. We can’t go and buy somebody from Everton, or even if we did then we couldn’t afford his wages,” said Wilder.
“You look at players in the Premier League, a lot of them started off in the Championship – or they started somewhere else.
“Harry Maguire, the world’s most expensive centre-half, started off with Sheffield United in League One. He’s an England international and played for England at the World Cup. So everyone has to start somewhere.
“Phil Jagielka is another who started off with us and played over a decade in the Premier League at Everton.
“Look at Jamie Vardy. He started at Stocksbridge, went to Halifax, went to Fleetwood and joined Leicester in League One and now he’s a top striker.
“I’m quite happy buying players from the Championship. I looked at the market that we’re in, the attitude of the players and how that fits into how we want to play. We will try to do our best with them and try to make them into better players.
“They understand they’re not the finished article but have they got the desire and ambition, added to the quality, to go and make a name for themselves – to become a Harry Maguire? It’s up to them now really and we will give them as much help as we possibly can.”
Sheffield United make their long-awaited Premier League return on Saturday at Bournemouth.
“It’s a very difficult place to go against a team and manager I have a lot of admiration for,” said Wilder.
“I’ve said numerous times over the summer that clubs like Bournemouth are a kind of blueprint for us. They managed to stay up after promotion and build in the Premier League and progress.
“We are up against a very positive side on Saturday with some very good attacking players. Callum Wilson up front is a handful, and he’s another one who started off at Coventry and went through the leagues with Bournemouth and now he’s an England international.
“It’s great inspiration for our players, this is what can happen.”