Lee Johnson wants Bristol City to model themselves on Sheffield United in order to keep their best players in the future.
City have become something of a selling club in recent seasons, albeit to their financial gain. Academy products Joe Bryan, Bobby Reid and Lloyd Kelly were all sold to Premier League sides for large fees.
Josh Brownhill and Adam Webster also left for tidy profits this term, joining Brighton and Hove Albion and Burnley respectively.
Yet this upheaval of his squad has taken its toll, according to Johnson. Perhaps it is one of the things hindering them making a genuine promotion push from the Championship.
“They (United) are achieving unbelievable things at the moment and it’s been built and built and built. They’ve lost one player, that was a key player that was (David) Brooks (to Bournemouth) that actually wasn’t even playing that much anyway,” the Robins head coach told Bristol Live.
“And they’ve kept building and adding and retaining and going again and again. What that leads to is really strong team spirit, a really good level of cohesion between the players and you get to read your partner almost telepathically.
“They’ve recruited 26/27-year-olds and therefore the Premier League teams are probably looking at it saying; ‘They’re good players, but are we going to pay top dollar?’
“And then now all of sudden they’ve proved that they can compete in the Premier League.
“But now they’re at the age where they are 28/29 and they’re settled. They’re probably not looking to go anywhere and they’ve built with the club probably in terms of their wages and their infrastructure.”
How Sheffield United compare to Bristol City
There has certainly been consistency in the Blades side in 2019/20, with five players starting every single league game to date. They are Chris Basham, Jack O’Connell, George Baldock, Enda Stevens and Oliver Norwood.
Meanwhile, John Egan and Dean Henderson have missed just one match each. Both were absent for the 3-3 draw with Manchester United, with Egan injured and Henderson unable to play against his parent club.
In comparison, only goalkeeper Daniel Bentley has been in the starting XI for every City league game this campaign. Andreas Weimann has started all but one, but beyond that there has been a lot of rotation.