Sheffield United: Blades are issued with promotion ultimatum

Florent Cuvelier with Marc McNulty � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Florent Cuvelier with Marc McNulty � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

Sheffield United must be relentless in their pursuit of excellence, first team coach Andy Garner has warned, or risk spending another season in League One, writes James Shield.

Nigel Clough’s side enter this afternoon’s meeting with Walsall fifth in the table but nine points behind second-placed Swindon Town after being held to a draw at Fleetwood Town last weekend.

However, after claiming their fourth top-flight scalp since the turn of the year during Tuesday’s Capital One Cup quarter-final against Southampton, Garner told The Star: “How many times have we done this? We have been to Aston Villa, Fulham and West Ham and beaten them all so we know we have a very good group and a very good team.

“Now you can add another name to that list.

“In this division, they have to produce that week-in and week-out. As soon as you don’t, you might come unstuck unfortunately.

“Everyone saw what we did against Southampton. What a brilliant performance it was.

“But can we go and do that again from now until the end of the season? That’s the challenge.

“Another 30 ‘Southampton’ games. That’s what we’ve got to try and produce.

“The players have to realise that and I think they do. They have to replicate that sort of level.”

Despite their giant-killing exploits, United are set to ring the changes for the visit of opponents who travelled north last night unbeaten in four outings. However, irrespective of Clough’s team selection, Garner insisted the tactical blueprint will remain the same.

“Tuesday was a case of 11 players who were on top of their game as individuals,” he said. “Collectively, everybody did their jobs as a team and, most importantly, everyone worked as hard as they could.

“When you put all them in together, all of those factors, Tuesday is the performance you get. It was all there.”

The 1-0 victory, secured courtesy of Marc McNulty’s second-half goal, also marked Florent Cuvelier’s first start since recovering from a serious knee injury sustained during a loan spell at Port Vale midway through last term.

“Flo has worked extremely hard to get back and he was shocked to see his name on the team-sheet,” Garner said. “But he deserved it.

“We didn’t really get to know him when we first came in but we like what we are seeing. A quality player and a really nice lad.

“I told him to enjoy himself and he replied ‘thanks’ which always means a lot coming from someone like that. Flo has given us another good option to consider and you can never have too many of those.

“He’s got a great attitude to go with his other attributes.”

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