The Plan

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Champagneblade

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Slav was an expensive mistake simply because to be successful you commit to giving him all he wants up front and he will fashion a decent, effective team for you. If you are not all in on him then you just don't go there. Clearly making the best of what he has isn't his strong point. He's happy to jump towards the end result but isn't strong at 'making do' on the way there. Hence 4 at the back, one lone striker and space for wide midfielders. All part of his plan, but for which we are ill equipped in terms of personnel without a huge and expensive turnover of players, taking hits to sizeable investments along the way.

Rather than be starry eyed or pressured to go for a name, we should have stuck with the Plan which was developing under Chris. It could continue without Chris as well and we could have been a lot further through this if we'd just appointed Hecky in January in hindsight.

The Plan

If you're not going to outspend teams then you have to have a differentiator. The formation and way of playing we have exploited over the past few years is the closest we have to it. Nobody else plays or has consistently mastered overlapping centre backs. Some might dabble but Basham and O'Connell are the experts. You can add back in there the Duffy role too. To get the kids, the U23s all on this page too was something that I really liked that Chris did. It makes the path to the first team a smoother one. So back to playing 3-4-1-2 at all levels from today is what I'd expect.

You then have a clear pathway with players on a development track to replace more senior players and you rely far less on transfers and the fees which come with them. You certainly don't then need to entertain wholesale changes every time a coach steps aside because the way of playing remains the same and therefore the required changes are fewer.

The way of playing becomes your identity, akin to what they do at say Ajax. The advantage here is that by investing in staff you also look to have a conveyor belt of like minded coaches who will retain this identity. Not so different to the boot room of Bill Shankly, Joe Fagan etc or to a lower level how Brentford nurtured Thomas Franck.

If you want United World to truly prosper, you roll out the same there. You create a uniqueness to your playing style where you are the expert and main exponent and this flows through all the clubs.

You also have to get the buy in of players that they may be required to commit to time in France or Belgium to aid in their development and to aid the other clubs.

The Problem with the Plan

This requires a very single minded approach from the Board and not to deviate if results go against you in the short term. As a fan it asks for a lot of patience. Something fans are not strong in.

It also requires the right personnel in place. It explains why Hecky has such a long contract. He's a very well educated guy is Heckingbottom and he can also probably see his role changing over time. He would effectively have oversight of Football affairs and whilst initially it is him taking the first team his role may evolve to more of a Director of Football Affairs over time.

As you are focussed more on the internal development from the 3 academies and movement between the three (which seems to work for Watford and Udinese) this means external recruitment, which will be lesser, needs to be on the money. So Mitch is still here. Is he up to that role? Just how much say did he have in McBurnie being seen as a physical target man for 17-20m? What made him think Callum Robinson was good to play in a front two rather than a three? What input did he have on Burke, with his lack of composure being a viable centre forward option? How much had he seen Brewster to suggest 23m would be a fee that would repay itself? Are the Board able to get and retain the right staff, especially in recruitment?

Overall if this is the plan, then I can certainly buy into the logic.

My concern is the discipline, perseverance and adherence to the principles required to make it work in a network of three principal clubs requires strong and focused leadership and I'm not convinced there is enough expertise to roll this out.
 
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jono_t2000

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Slav was an expensive mistake simply because to be successful you commit to giving him all he wants up front and he will fashion a decent, effective team for you. If you are not all in on him then you just don't go there. Clearly making the best of what he has isn't his strong point. He's happy to jump towards the end result but isn't strong at 'making do' on the way there. Hence 4 at the back, one lone striker and space for wide midfielders. All part of his plan, but for which we are ill equipped in terms of personnel without a huge and expensive turnover of players, taking hits to sizeable investments along the way.

Rather than be starry eyed or pressured to go for a name, we should have stuck with the Plan which was developing under Chris. It could continue without Chris as well and we could have been a lot further through this if we'd just appointed Hecky in January in hindsight.

The Plan

If you're not going to outspend teams then you have to have a differentiator. The formation and way of playing we have exploited over the past few years is the closest we have to it. Nobody else plays or has consistently mastered overlapping centre backs. Some might dabble but Basham and O'Connell are the experts. You can add back in there the Duffy role too. To get the kids, the U23s all on this page too was something that I really liked that Chris did. It makes the path to the first team a smoother one. So back to playing 3-4-1-2 at all levels from today is what I'd expect.

You then have a clear pathway with players on a development track to replace more senior players and you rely far less on transfers and the fees which come with them. You certainly don't then need to entertain wholesale changes every time a coach steps aside because the way of playing remains the same and therefore the required changes are fewer.

The way of playing becomes your identity, akin to what they do at say Ajax. The advantage here is that by investing in staff you also look to have a conveyor belt of like minded coaches who will retain this identity. Not so different to the boot room of Bill Shankly, Joe Fagan etc or to a lower level how Brentford nurtured Thomas Franck.

If you want United World to truly prosper, you roll out the same there. You create a uniqueness to your playing style where you are the expert and main exponent and this flows through all the clubs.

You also have to get the buy in of players that they may be required to commit to time in France or Belgium to aid in their development and to aid the other clubs.

The Problem with the Plan

This requires a very single minded approach from the Board and not to deviate if results go against you in the short term. As a fan it asks for a lot of patience. Something fans are not strong in.

It also requires the right personnel in place. It explains why Hecky has such a long contract. He's a very well educated guy is Heckingbottom and he can also probably see his role changing over time. He would effectively have oversight of Football affairs and whilst initially it is him taking the first team his role may evolve to more of a Director of Football Affairs over time.

As you are focussed more on the internal development from the 3 academies and movement between the three (which seems to work for Watford and Udinese) this means external recruitment, which will be lesser, needs to be on the money. So Mitch is still here. Is he up to that role? Just how much say did he have in McBurnie being seen as a physical target man for 17-20m? What made him think Callum Robinson was good to play in a front two rather than a three? What input did he have on Burke, with his lack of composure being a viable centre forward option? How much had he seen Brewster to suggest 23m would be a fee that would repay itself? Are the Board able to get and retain the right staff, especially in recruitment?

Overall if this is the plan, then I can certainly buy into the logic.

My concern is the discipline, perseverance and adherence to the principles required to make it work in a network of three principal clubs requires strong and focused leadership and I'm not convinced there is enough expertise to roll this out.

Good write up buddy. I would say whilst it seems a very pragmatic approach on paper, there is a higher chance of it not working than actually working.

Trying to get all clubs under the one umbrella and their academies playing the same style and approach without sacrificing table position and at least one club risking relegation at any one point is a big ask..
 

Harry's Game

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We are now on to Plan B

EC522B4A-FB4E-414A-A006-AC7AAD187CC7.jpeg

which is a bit of a worry as he was shit in The Sweeney movie.
 

dc_blade

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Slav was an expensive mistake simply because to be successful you commit to giving him all he wants up front and he will fashion a decent, effective team for you. If you are not all in on him then you just don't go there. Clearly making the best of what he has isn't his strong point. He's happy to jump towards the end result but isn't strong at 'making do' on the way there. Hence 4 at the back, one lone striker and space for wide midfielders. All part of his plan, but for which we are ill equipped in terms of personnel without a huge and expensive turnover of players, taking hits to sizeable investments along the way.

Rather than be starry eyed or pressured to go for a name, we should have stuck with the Plan which was developing under Chris. It could continue without Chris as well and we could have been a lot further through this if we'd just appointed Hecky in January in hindsight.

The Plan

If you're not going to outspend teams then you have to have a differentiator. The formation and way of playing we have exploited over the past few years is the closest we have to it. Nobody else plays or has consistently mastered overlapping centre backs. Some might dabble but Basham and O'Connell are the experts. You can add back in there the Duffy role too. To get the kids, the U23s all on this page too was something that I really liked that Chris did. It makes the path to the first team a smoother one. So back to playing 3-4-1-2 at all levels from today is what I'd expect.

You then have a clear pathway with players on a development track to replace more senior players and you rely far less on transfers and the fees which come with them. You certainly don't then need to entertain wholesale changes every time a coach steps aside because the way of playing remains the same and therefore the required changes are fewer.

The way of playing becomes your identity, akin to what they do at say Ajax. The advantage here is that by investing in staff you also look to have a conveyor belt of like minded coaches who will retain this identity. Not so different to the boot room of Bill Shankly, Joe Fagan etc or to a lower level how Brentford nurtured Thomas Franck.

If you want United World to truly prosper, you roll out the same there. You create a uniqueness to your playing style where you are the expert and main exponent and this flows through all the clubs.

You also have to get the buy in of players that they may be required to commit to time in France or Belgium to aid in their development and to aid the other clubs.

The Problem with the Plan

This requires a very single minded approach from the Board and not to deviate if results go against you in the short term. As a fan it asks for a lot of patience. Something fans are not strong in.

It also requires the right personnel in place. It explains why Hecky has such a long contract. He's a very well educated guy is Heckingbottom and he can also probably see his role changing over time. He would effectively have oversight of Football affairs and whilst initially it is him taking the first team his role may evolve to more of a Director of Football Affairs over time.

As you are focussed more on the internal development from the 3 academies and movement between the three (which seems to work for Watford and Udinese) this means external recruitment, which will be lesser, needs to be on the money. So Mitch is still here. Is he up to that role? Just how much say did he have in McBurnie being seen as a physical target man for 17-20m? What made him think Callum Robinson was good to play in a front two rather than a three? What input did he have on Burke, with his lack of composure being a viable centre forward option? How much had he seen Brewster to suggest 23m would be a fee that would repay itself? Are the Board able to get and retain the right staff, especially in recruitment?

Overall if this is the plan, then I can certainly buy into the logic.

My concern is the discipline, perseverance and adherence to the principles required to make it work in a network of three principal clubs requires strong and focused leadership and I'm not convinced there is enough expertise to roll this out.
Good, thoughtful post.

I would love to believe that we are reverting back to a well thought-out plan that was briefly interrupted by the get-rich-quick-scheme of appointing Jokanovic. I think it’s more likely that talk of “the plan” is basically window dressing for a new age of austerity because we are potless.

But let’s assume the plan is genuine and not something that has been forced upon us. It still has some major flaws. You’ve highlighted some but I think the biggest one is the idea of building around youth. If this was easy, everyone would do it—anyone who has played a bit of Football Manager is attracted to romance of it. The reality, however, is that most of the lads coming through our youth system are simply not going to be good enough—not good enough even for keeping us in the Championship, let alone for getting us back to the Premier League. And because we don’t have a Category One academy, we won’t be able to attract and hold onto the best young players anyway.
 

nopigfansintown

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The Plan seems to be to reduce the cost base as quickly as possible before the parachute payments run out. You can call it "managed decline", "streamlining the business", "austerity" or "cost cutting" - it doesn't really matter, does it? I take issue with the notion that this is a new plan. Go back to the August window and the Prince's interview on Sheffield United Way. In said interview, he reveals that our plans were predicated on 40 million pounds of player sales (the sales of Ramsdale and Berge). Furthermore, he stated that he didn't want to make loan signings (temporary capital investment) because it's not the way to build a successful club (basically dead money). Of course we did (5 or 6 loan players), contradicting his own words and setting off alarm bells for those paying attention. The reason for the loan signings - I would suggest - is that we didn't want to permanently increase our cost base as the money is drying up. It was one last, desperate role of the dice at reaching the Prem. Evidently that was the direction of travel before Slav was appointed; nothing much has changed except making it more of an overt approach. We now know that the explicit plan is player development and reducing the cost base - similar to McCabe's plan under Wilson/Weir etc (pre Prince). There is nothing revolutionary or interesting about it, except maybe the "United World" aspect. Been there, done that.
My point of view is that this type of approach usual ends badly. Why? You are competing with clubs who have larger capital outlays in their academies that are expected and normally do yield greater results. We are hearing more jam tomorrow promises against a new Cat 1 one system which would contradict some of the above, about reducing the cost base. This would represent a reassignment of capital from first team to the academy in terms of buying the land, developing it, and the increased annual running costs vis a vis Shirecliffe. This is welcome, but it would be folly to expect this academy to return immediate improved results on Shirecliffe.. To get Cat 1 numbers the FC should expect a period of transition in which this system has been in place for a number of years. We are catching up. Still: the quicker the better. Likewise it would be folly to expect Shirecliffe to continue to produce the same results as it always has done if Cat 1 doesn't happen. Year on year Sheffield United get further behind in this aspect yet somehow continually overachieve. A decline in productivity should be expected. We are punching above our weight as a Cat 2 academy and in truth have been since EPPP was implemented.
In terms of first team overheads at Championship level, it is no surprise that the clubs that spend the most usually win. The parachute clubs and the ownership groups that are prepared to put 13 million of their own capital (or equivalent) annually over a three year cycle generally win. That is the competition we face. The ownership that wants to aim for sustainability will obviously really struggle to compete on wages and fees. The market you are shopping in will be reduced as you cannot sustain sizeable wages or fees. I've always maintained that if you aren't prepared to sustain these losses, exiting stage left is probably advisable - the fans will be on your back pretty quickly unless you are football's answer to a magician.

1) What you need to overachieve: an amazing player recruitment/sales model that outperforms your net outlay year in year out.

2 )A top class academy producing players regularly.

3) Great relations with EPL clubs that will allow you to get the best young loans.

4) An incentivised squad that will be desperate to punch above their weight.

5) A manager that can tie it all together.

6) A style of play that all levels of the club buy into

If you have 1) and 5) you have a chance (see Wilder from L1 to Prem). If you have more than that amazing things can happen (Wilder arguable had 1,2,4, 5 and 6 in our rise to the Prem.)
 
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Nicolaus_Copernicus

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The strategic vision of the club is now to be ensure that we are at least the 4th worst team in the division every season.

To achieve this, we will attempt to expend the least amount of money possible, whilst trying to turn base metal into gold.

The plan will be overseen by an absentee owner, a footballing set up who's natural level of skill set is League 1 and a board room set up who readily admit that they are not football people.

Sunderland went down to League 1 on Premier League parachute payments. I'm not going to predict that we'll get relegated in the next 2 1/2 seasons, but we've now set ourselves on that course.
 

William

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The plan of playing youth players and not investing in the squad doesn’t sound like the one wilder agreed to. Remember wilder supposedly fell out with the board due to a lack of ambition, or so we were told by some in here.
 

Champagneblade

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Good write up buddy. I would say whilst it seems a very pragmatic approach on paper, there is a higher chance of it not working than actually working.

Trying to get all clubs under the one umbrella and their academies playing the same style and approach without sacrificing table position and at least one club risking relegation at any one point is a big ask..
I'd tend to agree with that point too.

It is very noble in principle. It may also explain the Prince and Youssuf taking a back seat. They aren't going to be attending the Lane to witness the next shoes off event. They will check in at the end of the season or when someone needs sacking else otherwise they will set and forget and let Bettis and Hecky take the plaudits or flack short term.

That's fine if the goal posts don't move too much.

For example you aim to build from within.

You aim to sell McBurnie within the next year and the plan is for Jebbison to develop and take his place and that is the conveyor belt. You then have Hackford and Lankshear further down the production line.

That sounds great. But what happens when instead of coming for McBurnie, you get an offer of 8m for Jebbison? That's not really part of the plan, is it? Are you prepared to say no because it will alter the course of your methodology? Because once you do divert then you become that little bit more similar to other clubs.

How much of a back seat will the board take when they know they are 100m short? Do they have the wherewithal to not sell the family silver for short term gain?

Hecky's success criteria is also not clear. It's not just Saturday afternoon apparently. So what is it? What is the consideration which determines if he's doing a good job or not?

Same with Bettis. What's his goals? His goal can't just be that he is CEO. That's not a goal. Resolve training ground by end 2021/22 season. Achieve Academy A status by start of 2023/24 season for example. If he is on the hook for the non-ball kicking bit, what makes him up for replacement? He always looks a man out of his depth to me.

His answer on backing in January was quite pathetic. If it were me, I would have said this:
"We feel the squad is bloated at the moment and needs some trimming to remain competitive. There are a number of younger players Paul sees as potential solutions to explore before we look externally. But if Paul feels he needs to look externally then we will provide support. But we will not put the future of the club at risk. Nobody wants that. We are just custodians of the club for future generations."

I certainly wouldn't have batted away a very legitimate question by saying "that's not the right question", when it's very much the question most fans wanted to see addressed because the assumption, despite Youssuf's explanation is that Slav wanted backing to make changes in January and he didn't get it. That's why he's off.

So yep, plenty of devil in the detail on rolling out such a plan!
 

derekacorah

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Slav was an expensive mistake simply because to be successful you commit to giving him all he wants up front and he will fashion a decent, effective team for you. If you are not all in on him then you just don't go there. Clearly making the best of what he has isn't his strong point. He's happy to jump towards the end result but isn't strong at 'making do' on the way there. Hence 4 at the back, one lone striker and space for wide midfielders. All part of his plan, but for which we are ill equipped in terms of personnel without a huge and expensive turnover of players, taking hits to sizeable investments along the way.

Rather than be starry eyed or pressured to go for a name, we should have stuck with the Plan which was developing under Chris. It could continue without Chris as well and we could have been a lot further through this if we'd just appointed Hecky in January in hindsight.

The Plan

If you're not going to outspend teams then you have to have a differentiator. The formation and way of playing we have exploited over the past few years is the closest we have to it. Nobody else plays or has consistently mastered overlapping centre backs. Some might dabble but Basham and O'Connell are the experts. You can add back in there the Duffy role too. To get the kids, the U23s all on this page too was something that I really liked that Chris did. It makes the path to the first team a smoother one. So back to playing 3-4-1-2 at all levels from today is what I'd expect.

You then have a clear pathway with players on a development track to replace more senior players and you rely far less on transfers and the fees which come with them. You certainly don't then need to entertain wholesale changes every time a coach steps aside because the way of playing remains the same and therefore the required changes are fewer.

The way of playing becomes your identity, akin to what they do at say Ajax. The advantage here is that by investing in staff you also look to have a conveyor belt of like minded coaches who will retain this identity. Not so different to the boot room of Bill Shankly, Joe Fagan etc or to a lower level how Brentford nurtured Thomas Franck.

If you want United World to truly prosper, you roll out the same there. You create a uniqueness to your playing style where you are the expert and main exponent and this flows through all the clubs.

You also have to get the buy in of players that they may be required to commit to time in France or Belgium to aid in their development and to aid the other clubs.

The Problem with the Plan

This requires a very single minded approach from the Board and not to deviate if results go against you in the short term. As a fan it asks for a lot of patience. Something fans are not strong in.

It also requires the right personnel in place. It explains why Hecky has such a long contract. He's a very well educated guy is Heckingbottom and he can also probably see his role changing over time. He would effectively have oversight of Football affairs and whilst initially it is him taking the first team his role may evolve to more of a Director of Football Affairs over time.

As you are focussed more on the internal development from the 3 academies and movement between the three (which seems to work for Watford and Udinese) this means external recruitment, which will be lesser, needs to be on the money. So Mitch is still here. Is he up to that role? Just how much say did he have in McBurnie being seen as a physical target man for 17-20m? What made him think Callum Robinson was good to play in a front two rather than a three? What input did he have on Burke, with his lack of composure being a viable centre forward option? How much had he seen Brewster to suggest 23m would be a fee that would repay itself? Are the Board able to get and retain the right staff, especially in recruitment?

Overall if this is the plan, then I can certainly buy into the logic.

My concern is the discipline, perseverance and adherence to the principles required to make it work in a network of three principal clubs requires strong and focused leadership and I'm not convinced there is enough expertise to roll this out.
The plan is a pretty sound one and is hardly groundbreaking.

It’s borne from necessity and not design, that’s my issue.

The other issue is that we’ll flip flop (no Saudi pun intended) from plan to plan until we get lucky with one.
 

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