Bob Harris has predicted that appointing Nigel Adkins as manager will equip Sheffield United with an “extra edge” when the League One club begins its latest push for promotion next month, writes James Shield.
The former Queen of the South and Blackpool defender delivered his verdict on the new regime after acknowledging Adkins’ decision to award every member of United’s squad “a clean slate” following Nigel Clough’s departure six weeks ago has increased the intensity of its pre-season preparations.
“It gives the lads who weren’t in the team last season an extra incentive,” Harris said. “It gives the lads who were an incentive to work even harder to try and stay in.
“A few of the lads who were out of the fold, as it were, are back in now and that’s good. We’ve got a hunger and determination to go one step further.”
Relations between Clough and several players, including Neill Collins and Diego De Girolamo, were known to have become strained before the former England international’s departure following May’s defeat in the play-off semi-finals while the likes of Callum McFadzean and Florent Cuvelier could also benefit from the opportunity after being loaned to League Two clubs last term.
Harris admitted he had been surprise by United’s decision to dispense with Clough’s services - “It was a bit of a shock, the manager going” - but added: “ The new one has come in and put his stamp on things. He seems really positive.”
Although Adkins has yet to enter the transfer market, his plans for the new campaign have manifested themselves in more subtle ways.
“This year, though, all the training has been done with a ball rather than on a track or in the swimming pool.
It’s tough but really enjoyable,” Harris said. “When you see the ball come out, especially on day one, everybody’s eyes light up.
“I know the lads think that’s great. It’s all game-related and we’re doing lots of fitness work but the ball is always there.”
United’s bid for Championship football begins at Gillingham on August 8 and Harris added: “We fell short last year. We wanted promotion but we didn’t achieve it.
“We had our chance but we just weren’t good enough. Hopefully we can rectify that this year and kick-on.
“From day one, we’ve come back and forgotten about the play-offs.
“We’re just even hungrier for success this season now.”