SHEFFIELD United manager Danny Wilson has attempted to alleviate the pressure on his team ahead of the new League One season by telling them to ‘play with a smile on their faces’ throughout what is expected to be a long and gruelling campaign.
Having been relegated from the Championship last term, the South Yorkshire club is bracing itself for a furious onslaught from opponents who, Wilson acknowledged, will be “desperate” to heap further misery upon Bramall Lane.
But, despite his chilling prediction, the former Northern Ireland international is adamant that attractive football can prosper in a division he recently described as arguably the most “physically intimidating” in the country.
“I want the lads to enjoy themselves,” Wilson told The Star. “What’s the point in working hard, week in week out throughout your career, and not being able to look back and say that you enjoyed it?
“I’ll tell you. There’s no point. We want them to look forward to coming into work.
“During training or the games themselves, we want them to have a smile on their faces.
“And I’m a firm believer that, if you enjoy what you’re doing, it brings the best out of you.
“You’re more likely to put in a performance.”
Wilson, who is preparing to take charge of United in a competitive fixture for the first time since being appointed in May, is determined to foster an environment where creativity can flourish after admitting he wants to rid his employers of their ‘route one’ image.
A friendly programme which has seen Wilson’s squad tackle a diverse range of challenges - from the doughty resistance of Worksop Town to the more sophisticated threat posed by Doncaster Rovers and Blackpool - has seen them make considerable progress towards towards this aim.
But it has also revealed those areas of their game-plan still in need of fine-tuning ahead of Saturday’s curtain-raiser at Oldham Athletic.
Despite dominating possession, United have proven worryingly profligate in front of goal.
Hence Wilson’s desire to draft-in further attacking reinforcements before the end of the transfer window, saying: “We’ve still got to go out there and fight.”