Sheffield United: Promotion specialist sees positive signs

He refused to offer any cast iron guarantees about how the rest of their season might unfold but Dean Hammond, the Sheffield United midfielder, last night drew comparisons between recent events at Bramall Lane and Southampton’s promotion winning campaign four years ago.

Wednesday, 30th December 2015, 5:00 am
Dean Hammond (left) tussles with Joe Cole during Sheffield United's win over Coventry City ©2015 Sport Image all rights reserved

Hammond, on loan from Leicester City, was a member of the squad which, under Nigel Adkins’ stewardship, delivered Championship football to St Mary’s in 2011 before reaching the Premier League 12 months later.

United enter this weekend’s fixture against sixth-placed Peterborough only a point behind Graham Westley’s side having won four straight games in all competitions.

Hammond, who tasted success only twice in his first eight outings after arriving in October, said: “At Southampton, it wasn’t all flowers and roses at the start. It was a building process. This is very similar. Confidence is a magical thing in football and it’s growing. It comes mostly through results. There’s a good spirit among the lads which is also very similar to Southampton.”

The south coast club were eighth - four points behind the automatic promotion places - as they prepared for their first Christmas following Adkins’ appointment before eventually finishing second. United conceded their first goal since November 28 when Gary Liddle scored a late consolsation for Bradford City during Monday’s 3-1 defeat in South Yorkshire.

“It’s a big football club,” Hammond said. “We want to play the right way, we want to play football but, most importantly, we want to play winning football. We are keeping clean sheets and looking solid. We’ll always score goals so, if we can make this ground a fortress if you like, teams won’t want to come here and play.”

“You have to do the basics right before you can do anything else,” Hammond added. “We create chances but you also need clean sheets and to be solid. You win games in the last 20 minutes. That’s when the really free-flowing stuff, providing you are in the right position, can start. We all want to play like Barcelona but, ultimately, it’s the winning that counts.”