The Blades were very slow to make any additions last year despite appointing Slavisa Jokanovic way back at the end of May, something that looked set to give them a real advantage over others who were targeting promotion during the 2021/22 campaign.
However, they didn’t spend a single penny on transfer fees during the summer 2021 window and only made their first signing in August with Ben Davies arriving from Liverpool on a season-long loan deal, an agreement that was sealed after the start of the league season.
Quiz: Which club did Sheffield United sign these 24 players from in the 2000s?
They were then forced to move frantically in the latter stages of the window with Conor Hourihane, Morgan Gibbs-White and Robin Olsen all arriving during the final two days.
Although the signing of Gibbs-White has proven to be a real game-changer for the South Yorkshire outfit, that window could not be counted as a successful one due to the fact they failed to fully address key areas like their central defence, midfield and wing positions.
Bearing this in mind, Heckingbottom is keen to start his business quite early on despite potentially not knowing what division they will be competing in until the latter stages of the month.
He said: “A big part of what I am saying is that if we want to work with players we want them in from day one. I don’t see why not.
“If we can start working with him in June as opposed to the middle of September that’s three months’ difference. If you get them in September that’s November/December before [up and running] and you’re well into the season.
“There are always things going to get done at the end, loans in particularly from the Premier League clubs, especially the big ones, they are going to have a lot of their young boys in and around the squad and decisions are not going to be made until they name their 25, we understand all that, but there are still other things we can be doing to get the squad put together.”
Regardless of which division they will be competing in, they will need fresh faces in to give them the very best chance of success and although Jokanovic’s style of play wasn’t to the Blades’ taste, transfers also played a part in his downfall.
He needed to be backed by the board to make the changes he needed to because it was clear the squad needed changes if it was going to have a change in style and formation, something Prince Abdullah didn’t facilitate.
The Blades don’t even need to spend that much to recruit top-quality players because there will be plenty of good potential additions in the free-agent market including Joe Rothwell, who has recently been linked with a move to Bramall Lane.
If they can bring in a few additions early on, that will enable them to get a full pre-season of football under their belt under Heckingbottom and that should mean fewer players need to come in during the latter stages of the window.
This will help to maintain stability and that could allow them to start next season quicker than they began the 2021/22 campaign. If they stay in the second tier for 2022/23, that fast start could be crucial to winning promotion.