Having spent six months working for Chris Wilder last season, Dominic Calvert-Lewin knows exactly what makes his new manager tick.
So, barring a dramatic tactical u-turn, he believes Sheffield United will be instructed to come out all guns blazing when the race for promotion begins next term.
“I played under him when I was on loan at Northampton,” Calvert-Lewin said. “And trying to produce good attacking football underpins everything he does. We went out to be really aggressive, really positive and basically took it from there. It certainly worked because you’ve only got to look at the table to see the results.”
Wilder lifted the League Two title at Sixfields before taking charge of United four weeks ago. Calvert-Lewin, who made nearly 30 appearances for Town during the first-half of the campaign, explained why the 48-year-old’s decision to prioritise “attitude over ability” is more than just a soundbite when United unveiled their new home strip at Robin Hood Airport yesterday.
“With this style, sticking together and working hard for each other is the key element,” Calvert-Lewin continued. “Everything else stems from that. If you can get a good unity and a strong bond between the group, which I’m sure we will have, then the talent comes through anyway. Obviously it all depends on what the manager wants to do, it’s his call, but from what I’ve seen I think we’ll be asked to really take it to the league. Hopefully we can get promotion like that.”
Calvert-Lewin, a graduate of United’s Steelphalt Academy, returned to Bramall Lane in January when his temporary agreement at Town expired. Despite making further progress under his predecessor Nigel Adkins, the teenage centre-forward acknowledged Wilder’s more confrontational approach could help strengthen the bond between the League One club and its support.
“They way he likes to go about things, I think it will really excite the fans and perhaps show them a different side to us than what they’ve seen in the past,” Calvert-Lewin said. “All of the lads here work hard but, from what I’ve seen and heard, the way we’ve gone about things hasn’t always been what the fans have wanted. That’s probably going to change now.”
Calvert-Lewin also assuaged fears that adopting a high-intensity approach could impact upon United’s results during the closing stages of the season.
“The manager wants you to work hard, run hard, win the ball and then go for goal,” he said. “Fair play to Northampton because they kept it up all year and, having played in both divisions, I honestly don’t think there’s a massive difference between the two. So, if they can do it, so can we.”