If this really is the tournament no footballer wants to win then someone has neglected to tell Louis Reed.
The Sheffield United midfielder is part of a generation which has supposedly turned it’s back on knockout competition to focus on the league. But, as Nigel Adkins’ side prepared for tonight’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie at Fleetwood Town, Reed rubbished the notion that reaching the later stages would invariably complicate its promotion push.
“The cups can be the best way to win some silverware,” he said. “And, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to do that? They also help to build consistency and confidence too which is always beneficial. So no, I don’t understand why there’s any reason for people to say the two can’t go together.”
United need look no further than last term, when Bristol City claimed both the JP Trophy and the League One title, for proof the two tournaments can mix. Reed, who made his senior debut as the club readied itself for an FA Cup semi-final against Hull City two seasons ago, has first hand experience too.
“That run really kickstarted us and then, earlier this year, we got to the last four of the Capital One Cup and also the play-offs,” Reed continued. “So that shows it’s possible to balance the two things and there’s no reason why we can’t balance them again. Okay, we didn’t get up which is what we wanted to do but we were close so they can go together because of the belief that we took from playing so well against Tottenham Hotspur and beating Southampton on the way.”
“Don’t get me wrong,” Reed added. “The league is our priority and we definitely want to be winning it is we can. But the cups are brilliant, especially if you’ve not had a regular game or are looking to impress and get in the eleven week in and week out. They give you the chance to make and impression and, if you are representing Sheffield United, then you should have the attitude that you want and expect to win every single match.”
Adkins, who took charge of United in June, will be analysing performances closely during this evening’s Northern Area quarter-final at Highbury. Especially after seeing Chris Basham, Paul Coutts and Che Adams succumb to injury against Worcester City last weekend. Reed, a graduate of the club’s Steelphalt Academy, has appeared in 12 of United’s 21 outings following Adkins appointment and revealed the former Southampton and Scunthorpe chief’s obsession for detail has aided his development.
“The manager has been brilliant with me. He does lots of one to one stuff and I’ve watched clips of myself playing with him. (First team coach) Dean Wilkins has been brilliant too, a great help. I’ve stayed after training with him and done on pitch and video sessions. I’ve also been doing plenty with Macca (Lee McMahon) in the gym. It’s all part of the bigger picture. The sit downs are pretty regular and you get told what you’re doing well and what you can do better.”
Although Adkins has allowed other members of his squad to further their footballing education on loan, Reed is content to remain at Bramall Lane.
“I’m happy to be here because I’m still learning all the time. If that’s what they think is best for me then that’s what I’ll do. I’m happy to have my career path guided by them, yes.
“I’m enjoying myself here because the work behind the scenes is so good. Everybody enjoys themselves and if you enjoy yourself then I think the chances of achieving what we want are much higher that might otherwise be the case. Like I say, the manager has been great with me and he’s told me he wants me to be a part of his squad. I’m pleased to be in and around it and I’m learning tons from lads like Bash and Jose (Baxter) too.”
Reed was an unused substitute when United beat Fleetwood 3-0 in the league last month.
“We know what Fleetwood are about and we are going there to do a job because we want to get to Wembley,” he said. “It’s an amazing stadium, no matter what the occasion, and I think it’s everyone’s dream to play there. We’ll be giving it a real ‘go’ definitely.”