John Fleck knows all about playing under pressure.
After all, it has been a near constant companion throughout his footballing career.
The Sheffield United midfielder progressed through the ranks at Rangers, where every defeat provokes a Spanish style inquisition, before joining Coventry City; a club ravaged by politicking and ownership issues for most of the past four years.
So little wonder, when the subject was raised following his arrival at Bramall Lane, Fleck brushed aside claims that being expected to deliver promotion could prove too heavy a burden for some of Chris Wilder’s players to bear.
“People always talk about pressure like it’s a problem,” he said. “To be honest, I think it’s anything but.
“Pressure is good. It means you are at a club that should be doing something. That is supposed to challenge.
“And, in any case, what’s wrong with the fans wanting you to win every week? That’s what we should be trying to do.”
Fleck, aged 24, could make his first appearance in a United jersey when they face a Murcia Representative XI at La Manga Stadium this evening. The former Scotland under-21 international, who agreed a three year contract with Chris Wilder’s side, has been getting to know his new team mates since arriving in the resort earlier this week.
“The trip probably couldn’t have come at a better time for me,” Fleck, speaking from United’s warm-weather training base, continued. “I already know a few of the lads - Paul Coutts from the Scotland set-up and Bash (Chris Basham) after spending a bit of time on loan at Blackpool - but, coming-out here, has really helped me settle in. I’ve only been a United player for a few days now but, already, it feels like the norm.”
Fleck, the nephew of ex-Norwich City and Chelsea centre-forward Robert, raised eyebrows in some quarters by choosing to join United earlier this month. Voted City’s player-of-the-year last season, he attracted interest from several Championship clubs before opting for South Yorkshire instead.
A combination of Wilder’s no-nonsense outlook and gut instinct, he revealed, was behind the move.
“I just felt like I needed a change and a new challenge. I’ve always enjoyed playing at Bramall Lane and I’ve always thought it’s a proper football club. I spoke with the manager for about 20 minutes a while back and that made my mind up, especially when he showed me around.
“I don’t have anything bad to say about Coventry. I really enjoyed my time there and they were good to me, really good, but I just felt like doing something different and, like I say, I’ve always liked it here.
“I nearly came a while back, a most people know, but I’m here now and can’t wait to get going.”
Fleck was referring to the transfer saga which ended with the Football League prohibiting him, together with then Rangers colleague Kyle Hutton, from joining United in 2012.
“I don’t really know what happened,” he said. “Apparently the faxes didn’t arrive or get filled out on time before the deadline but it was frustrating, yes, at the time. I was in bed at home when I got a call from Rangers at about 10.30pm saying United had come in. So I rushed to the ground and we thought everything had been done but then there was a problem. It was a bit unsettling because it was going to be a big move for me and Kyle. But I’m here now and I can’t wait to get going.”