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Last Updated: Thursday, 28 April, 2005, 17:05 GMT 18:05 UK
Planning for the Premiership
Sheffield United boss and BBC Sport columnist Neil Warnock
By Neil Warnock
Sheff Utd boss and BBC Sport columnist

Sunderland secured promotion last weekend and the planning will already have started for life in the Premiership next season.

Manager Mick McCarthy will not only have worked out what positions he wants to strengthen but also have several different players in mind for those spots.

He will look to get them in as quickly as possible and I think there will be a strong possibility of season-long loans.

Of all the teams that could go up from the Championship this season only Wigan - bankrolled by Dave Whelan - are likely to have decent money to spend.

Mick bought some good young players at Sunderland and they have succeeded in winning promotion to the top flight but he will need to bring in some seasoned pros if they are to stay there.

We have had a couple of players in on trial who have been frankly embarrassing

I would not be surprised if he tried to pick up a couple of quality foreign players on Bosman free transfers.

I went to watch Bolton's reserves the other day and the team was comprised largely of foreign players.

Mick will have scouts looking abroad but before signing a player he will want to see him as often as possible.

Often an agent will approach a club and recommend a player.

I reckon that at Sheffield United we probably get two or three calls a day from agents at this time of year.

In the past it has sometimes been a nightmare, with agents touting players who are simply not up to scratch.

We have had a couple of players on trial this season who have been frankly embarrassing, yet from the build up their agents gave you would have thought they were the best thing since sliced bread.

After a while you get to know which agents know what standard of player you are looking for and therefore do not waste your time.

Sunderland manager Mick McCarthy
McCarthy will have a busy summer

With a foreign player I would always want to see him play three of four times before I felt able to commit to him.

I went to Hungary earlier this week to watch a couple of potential signings.

The match I saw was a derby between Ferencvaros and Ujpest - and let me tell you it was a serious eye opener.

If you think we have problems in England go and watch a match over there. It was like stepping back in time.

The game was stopped more than once as the number of flares on the pitch limited visibility, while supporters climbed the iron fences that surrounded it.

At one point a steward was pushed by a player and retaliated by punching him to the floor.

All the players joined in a full-scale brawl but the incident ended with steward and player shaking hands and no one was booked.

After two or three passes a player would be scythed down and in England I think the match would have been abandoned.

At the end the supporters made their way out through dangerously narrow gates and in many ways it looked like an accident waiting to happen.

Obviously Heysel and the Bradford fire changed things in England but the state of the ground made me realise how lucky we are.

Of course, before Mick McCarthy starts his summer spending he has the little matter of the final two games of the regular season.

I'm desperately hoping his players haven't been celebrating by drinking too much champagne.

His side play West Ham on Friday in a game that has implications for our play-off hopes and I have to say that it is sometimes easier to play against a side that has just won promotion.




THE NEIL WARNOCK COLUMN

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