Nigel Adkins has warned his players they must be ready to spill blood for the cause or forget about promotion.
The Sheffield United manager was speaking after issuing a damning indictment of their performance during Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at Gillingham which, Adkins admitted, would intensify his efforts to sign a new centre-half.
David Edgar of Birmingham City could emerge as a potential target after sources in the Midlands last night told The Star he will be allowed to leave St Andrews on loan while Harlee Dean has also been linked with a move to Bramall Lane. However, the 24-year-old is thought to remain part of Marinus Dijkhuizen’s plans at Griffin Park.
“We’ve conceded three goals from set plays,” Adkins said. “Fellas, you’ve got to do better than that, you’ve got to defend them.
“You need six players who want to drive in and head that ball, at both ends of the pitch, and we didn’t.
“You’ve got to do your job. You have one on one duels and you’ve got to be ruthless and dominate the person you are up against.
“We can learn so much from that. And we’ve got to. We’ve got to be better than that. Individually and collectively. All of us.”
Edgar, aged 28, has been capped by Canada over 30 times and finished the previous campaign on loan at Huddersfield Town. Dean joined Brentford from Southampton in 2012 and, like Edgar, can also play in midfield.
A weakness at dead-ball situations contributed towards United’s failure to reach the Championship last term and Adkins, taking charge of his first competitive fixture since being appointed in June, added: “I don’t think the two centre-halves (Jay McEveley and Neill Collins) were at fault. They weren’t the ones marking the players who scored.
“I’m not bothered about what’s happened before. I’m bothered about going forward.
“We’ve talked about a lot of things (in the dressing room) and I’ll keep my thoughts private. That’s important because I’m striving to get the best out of the players.
“The best way of doing that, the best way of achieving it, is to be together and resolute. Unfortunately there have been some individual mistakes. But it’s all about the group.”
United’s misery was compounded when Adkins revealed Jose Baxter had been withdrawn at half-time due to injury. The midfielder is now set to miss tomorrow’s Capital One Cup tie at Morecambe and is a doubt for this weekend’s visit of Chesterfield.
“That’s what it’s all about now, that’s what the teams who achieve things do,” Adkins said. “They respond in the right manner after something like that.”