Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, has warned his team could require “thick skins” against Shrewsbury Town tonight.
But, acknowledging patience is likely to prove a virtue as they chase a first League One triumph since October 20, Adkins reiterated United’s commitment to playing incisive, attack-minded football.
“We work hard in training but it’s in the arena where we are measured,” he said. “We are expected to win every game we play and that underlines the situation because there is an opposition out there too.
“We know Shrewsbury, we’ve analysed them and we know they have threats. They are dangerous at set-plays and also on the counter-attack. But we are at home at Bramall Lane. We might have to be patient.
“We want to get the ball forward quickly but sometimes, like it or not, you can’t just go straight through teams so you have to move the ball from side to side to create that space by coaxing them out.”
Describing United’s last home win, a 3-0 victory over Fleetwood Town, as the template for success this evening, Adkins added: “It’s quite interesting because we scored in the first minute against Fleetwood and what did they do? They stayed tucked in even then. But we played really well, for me anyway, made 500 or so passes and won the game in a very convincing manner.”
United enter the match under intense scrutiny after slipping to 11th following last weekend’s draw at Walsall.
“Goalkeepers, full-backs and wingers need thick skins because they are very close to the crowd,” Adkins said. “If people keep chipping away then yes, there’s a chance it can play on your mind. But you have to get on with it and deal with it.”
“I was speaking with (Walsall manager) Dean (Smith) afterwards,” Adkins added. “They’ve been together a long time. A few of their lads were getting stick early on but they’ve stuck by them, stuck to the plan and are getting the rewards from that now. We are doing something similar in that we know what we want and how we want to do it. It’s no use changing plans left right and centre when things aren’t going your way because that doesn’t help anybody. We are staying focused.”