United manager Keith Curle spoke this week about the summer recruitment programme as he looks to add new faces to his squad ahead of the start of the pre-season training package at the end of this month.
Speaking first about the offers on the table for keeper Mark Gillespie and midfielder James Bailey, he said: “The offers were given to them at the end of season meetings and there are rules as to when they have to respond. They’ve both acknowledged the offers they’ve been given and I have no problem with players who feel they want to keep their options open.
And on the efforts to bring new faces in, he said: “We’re working very hard on it but we aren’t in a position where we need to panic. We have irons in the fire but, as I said at the AGM on Wednesday, we’ve missed out on a few in recent days.
“There are clubs in every division who will wait to see what players have been offered and then simply raise it. I want players here who want to be here, and it’s a changing outlook as we go through each day. The pleasing thing is that we’re very active within it.”
“We know the skill sets we’re looking for and we know where we feel we need to strengthen,” he continued. “A downside from last season was that lost a lot of goals from the team through injury and transfers and we need to replace that.
“What we do know is that we’ve conceded too many goals and we also need to recruit with that in mind. However, our style of play is to be attacking and entertaining and I never want to take that out of the way we do things. It’s part of our philosophy and I think people are starting to enjoy it.
“Another good thing is that we had players who went on loan last season, or who perhaps didn’t feature as much as they would have liked, who are back with us in July with a clean slate.
“They were brought to the club for a reason and the door is wide open for them to stake a claim. They’ve been given that message as they went away for their summer break and I’m sure there’ll be a real focus from them.”
On the size of the squad he’s looking for, he said: “I think that even if finances were different at this club I’d still go for quality over quantity. That policy paid off for us through the first part of last season but ideally I’ll go into next January with money in the pot to strengthen, if we need to.
“The profile of the team has been raised, there’s no doubt about that. The good thing is that players know they can earn good money here because of the incentivised contracts we offer.
“As I say, players and their representatives are at a stage where they can wait and weigh up the offers they’ve been given. We have to accept that, but we’re in there and competing and that’s what matters.”
On the budget the manager has to work with, chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “We know where we are as a club and we’ve done very well to work within our playing budget under the current manager.
“We find with Keith that we always stay patient as we try to get the right characters into the building. There’s always awareness that we’re working against intense rivalry within the division, but there’s never a sense of rushing things through. Keith is very clear in that he wants any business he does through the summer to be good business.
“The level of the budget we have to work with is a moveable thing. It goes up as commercial deals are done and as things like Season Ticket sales, retail operations and commercial activities make more of a contribution.
“There are obviously no windfalls from cup competitions this time round, but increased contributions from the areas we mentioned are balancing that off. That means we’re looking at around the same or slightly below the figures we were dealing with at this time last year, as we speak right now. It will change both up and down as the situation changes over the coming weeks and months, as it always does.”