Sheffield United: ‘Play-offs will bring out the best in us’ says Blades star

Mark Howard celebrates Sheffield United's victory over West Ham in the Capital One Cup earlier this season � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Mark Howard celebrates Sheffield United's victory over West Ham in the Capital One Cup earlier this season � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Mark Howard believes play-off football will bring the best out of Sheffield United, writes James Shield.

Nigel Clough’s side need just a point from their remaining two games to be certain of a top six finish.

And Howard insisted United’s experiences in knockout competition - they have reached the last four of both the FA and Capital One cups since Clough’s appointment 18 months ago - could prove crucial if qualification is assured.

“We’ve had some great cup runs and those should definitely help us if we get there,” Howard, the United goalkeeper, said. “They’re different because they are one-off games. You set-up differently because you need to win.

“In the league, we get lots of teams settling for a draw against us or sitting back and looking to nick something on the counter.

“Obviously, in the first play-off leg, you can do that a bit perhaps. But, at some point, you need to open up and go for a win. Cup games, which these are essentially, are different. Totally.

“The whole mentality is different. Everyone has played a lot of games but then, suddenly, it just comes down to three.”

United will also book their place in the play-offs, irrespective of tomorrow’s result at Leyton Orient, if Rochdale fail to beat MK Dons.

Howard added: “We don’t want it to go down to the last game. That puts a lot of pressure on.

“There’s no margin for error then. Football can be horrible at times and if it that does happen then so be it. We’re prepared for both and it’s in our own hands.

“This is why we play football. Games like this, situations like this, are fun.

“There’s more on them. There’s more at stake. We thrive on things like this.

“That’s the fun of it. This is why we’re in it, for these moments in your life and your career.

“Football is fun. It should be fun. Obviously there are times when it’s not but we want to go into games with that feeling.”

Twitter: @JamesShield1

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