VIDEO: Adkins’ search for constant improvement at Sheffield United

Nigel Adkins shares a joke with his subs at Bradford
Nigel Adkins shares a joke with his subs at Bradford

Degrees and diplomas in psychology, applied football management, finance and physiotherapy, and a real-life footballing CV which includes taking over a club in League One and guiding them to the Premier League.

Nigel Adkins, Sheffield United’s affable and enthusiastic manager, is not one used to doing things by halves.

Improvement, the former Scunthorpe United and Southampton boss believes, is key. Both on and off the field.

“There is room for that in everything we do,” Adkins, speaking ahead of United’s trip to Oldham Athletic tomorrow, said.

“We’ve all got to improve, and strive to be the best at whatever we do. As soon as you relax and rest on your laurels, you’ll be taken right back down again.

“It’s important to drive each other on, too.

“If you think you’ve done well, then the next step is to go and do better.”

Adkins raised a smile in his managers’ office when he turned the tables on his interrogators, asking: “What’s the biggest room in your house? The room for improvement.”

But the message is serious.

The mindset first saw him carve a career in management at Renbad Rovers, guiding them to three promotions up the ladder of the Birkenhead Sunday League, before enjoying similar success at Bangor City, Scunthorpe and Southampton.

Not that the Blades boss’ demeanour can be exploited - as youngster Che Adams found to his cost, when he was dropped for United’s trip to Burton Albion earlier in the campaign after a breach of club discipline.

The mercurial 19-year-old has since returned to the side, and scored twice as United returned to the top six with a 3-2 win over Rochdale at the weekend. And Adkins said: “Che is a real talent, but he’s also very young and it’s about getting that consistency out of him.

“How do you do that? It’s about life experiences, and experiences in general. If you make a mistake, it’s important to learn from it quickly. Players - and people - who reach the very top of their profession are ones who make mistakes, but learn from them and then don’t make the same one again.

“Che, as we all know, has so much natural talent but we have a lot of goalscoring prowess here. Che is just one element of that, and we have got to make sure he works very hard now on becoming a professional footballer.

“He looks like he’s turned that around now, and hopefully his performances on the field can take us to another level.”

Scoring goals may not be a problem for United - they’ve hit 22 in six games at Bramall Lane this season - but keeping them out at the other end is a different story. United have kept one clean sheet in their last nine encounters in league and cup, and face another defensive reshuffle this weekend with Jay McEveley, David Edgar, John Brayford, Bob Harris and Craig Alcock all sidelined.