Nigel Adkins has reminded Sheffield United’s supporters of their key role they play for his side after insisting that the “link” between supporters and fans is starting to reappear.
United were encouraged throughout by a vocal home support in Saturday’s goalless draw at home to Barnsley, a result which all-but ends their hopes of gatecrashing the League One play-offs this season.
But a recent upturn in fortunes - United have lost two of their last 10 games, and conceded just one goal in five - has led to a renewed sense of confidence ahead of the club’s sixth season in League One.
And Adkins, who takes United to Coventry this weekend, said: “There are signs of progress, definitely. We’re coming towards the end of the season now, and we’ve learned so many lessons.
“I’d like to think we’re moving in the right direction but we all want it now, none more so than me.
“But the positives are there to be seen, I think. There’s something good there to be built on; passion, energy and quality amongst the players.
“There’s a link between the fans and the players, and I think the appreciation is there. At times this season, it hasn’t been, but they can see that we’re doing everything we can to get this great football club back to where it belongs, as soon as we can.”
A journey which, Adkins believes, is destined to take place.
“We’ll get there, without a shadow of a doubt,” the Blades boss added.
“We have a fantastic fan base who desperately want to get behind the football club. Bramall Lane, as a stadium, is superb; the playing surface is great, the best in the division for me.
“We need to play a brand of football that suits it, but also have variety to win games of football and excite the crowd.
“We had a spell in the middle where we were solid and didn’t concede too many goals - a change we had to make, because we were leaking too many goals - and we only lost two games in three months.
“But we didn’t win enough. It’s about striking that balance. Which we will do.”
Adkins named the same starting XI for the fifth game running against Paul Heckingbottom’s impressive Reds, who now occupy the final play-off spot.
“That helps, doesn’t it? We need to continue playing good, attacking football with a robust group, who have the spirit and desire to keep working hard. We have that here,” Adkins added.
“The players work extremely hard and they were committed against Barnsley, but lacked that bit of quality. Was it nerves? I don’t know. It’s easy from the sidelines, but these guys have to go out there on the pitch and do it.
“We came out and didn’t get the victory we need, and we have to strive to improve.”