Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough hopes his team draw on their semi-final experience at Tottenham Hotspur tonight.
United face Mauricio Pochettino’s side over two legs for the right to face either Liverpool or Chelsea in March’s Capital One Cup showpiece at Wembley. Reflecting on their meeting with Hull City in the last four of the FA Cup nine months ago, Clough acknowledged the pain of that defeat could prove invaluable during this evening’s first leg at White Hart Lane.
“It’s a good incentive but also a lesson to be learned,” Clough, whose players twice led before being beaten 5-3, said. “We had a bad ten or 15 minutes after half time against Hull and that was enough for them to punish us.
“So that’s a lesson. We learned an awful lot from that.
“We played extremely well in the first half and got our noses in front and you have to get through that first ten or 15 minutes in the second half. It will be the same against Spurs.”
“You break the game down into little periods. At White Hart Lane, can we get through the first 15 minutes and not concede? That will be important. It will give us a lot of belief and give us a foothold in the game.”
United, who host Spurs at Bramall Lane next week, beat Southampton at the quarter-final stage having dispatched West Ham during the early rounds.
Clough said: “I’m not sure Tottenham will be too worried about that looking at them in the last few weeks. I don’t think they’ll be too concerned but I think they’ll be more aware of us.
“If you get results in the cup competitions, I think the opposition does become a little bit more aware, and cautious we hope, but with what they’ve got to put on the pitch they’ll back themselves to say, ‘look, no matter what they do, we should have enough to beat them’.
“We’ve got to try and stay in the tie for the second leg. That’s the main thing.”