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Beattie wouldn't be a bad Blades buy


Antony Melvin

Antony Melvin is the squarefootball.net editor and spends his spare time sifting through needlessly abusive emails....
[full biography]
02/08/2007 11:00:00.
read: 658 times.

Football has been likened to making love to a beautiful woman, and for many obsessive fans it's about as close as they'll get. A good simile for the football transfer windows is that they are like the January Sales. Many of the shops open before the shop window officially does, even in the sales some things are too expensive, but some struggling shops are selling everything and finally if you leave your shopping too late, only some stores still have stock - but probably not what you actually want.

So it is with Sheffield United's pursuit of players in the wake of the failed relegation appeal. The appeal has taken the club's eye off the need to rebuild for a different challenge and when your chairman is preparing to appeal to get the team back into the top-flight he doesn't want to be buying second tier players on the off-chance that he loses. Many of the more sought after players that United need have now been snapped up, leaving the unfairly belittled Bryan Robson with less chance of building a promotion team than might otherwise have been the case.

Regardless of what emerges from the Carlos Tevez court case The Blades are now preparing for life in the second tier judging by the rumours linking them to Zinedine Kilbane and John Hartson (Guardian, 01.08.2007). But more intriguing are the ongoing negotiations for James Beattie and the rumours that Everton have accepted a £4m offer (The Independent, 31.07.2007) for the striker.

Beattie has been deemed surplus to requirements at Goodison Park since Christmas, injury niggles and poor form have allowed his potential partnership with Andrew Johnson to fade away. James Vaughn and Victor Anichebe have moved past Beattie in the pecking order at Everton and with McFadden and Cahill able to do a job supporting a lone front man, Moyes has other options. Also if Moyes can raise a decent price for Beattie it could help fund bids for Alan Smith (Daily Mail, 31.07.2007) and Leighton Baines (Daily Mirror, 25.07.2007)

There have been other murmurings about Beattie; Middlesbrough were considering him if Alan Smith didn't move to the north-east (Daily Star, Daily Mail, 14.07.2007); former club Blackburn were 'interested' (People, 15.07.2007) - but both were put off by the £4m price tag (Daily Mail, 16.07.2007) or Beattie's £40k per week wage demands (Daily Star, 30.06.2007).

Which leaves Sheffield United.

James Beattie has appeared 86 times for Everton in the two-and-a-half seasons he has been at Goodison Park bagging just 15 goals. So he is not as injury prone as his reputation suggests - but he is also not as prolific as he once was. Just two goals in 35 games last season - many as a substitute mean that he will not be sorely missed, especially as it is 26 games since he scored in an Everton shirt.

Beattie's most prolific days were at Southampton before his £6m move to Merseyside, where he scored 76 goals in 233 games. Robson must be hoping that he can build a team around the the 29-year-olds experience and that in tempting an international down a division he can persuade the rest of the team that they are going places. The purchase of such a totemic player would lift The Blades and a target of 15 league goals for Beattie shouldn't be a problem in a top team in the second tier.

£4m does seem quite expensive given Beattie's poor 2006/7 - but he would be a good target man in The Championship; and if he can rediscover his Southampton form he would fire United straight back up. Sometimes you have to pay over the odds to get what you need.

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