Adam Owen, Sheffield United’s assistant performance manager, believes David Weir’s arrival will avoid a Play-Off ‘hangover’ at Bramall Lane this season.
Weir, the former Everton and Rangers favourite, has been tasked with delivering a return to the Championship at the third attempt, following two failed Play-Off campaigns in two seasons.
Their last attempt at promotion, of course, ended in heartbreak back in May when they were pipped by Yeovil in the Play-Off semi-finals, but Owen said: “It has not really been difficult to pick up the players after last season.
“We’ve come back in to training and they have been really bright and bubbly.
“Their application to the training has been fantastic, they enjoyed the first few weeks of pre-season and are enjoying the sort of methods we are putting in place.
“The manager [Weir] had a meeting with them when he first came in, and he is very keen to stress that he wants a hard-working, professional environment here.
“The players have bought into that, and they are refreshed and ready to go.”
Welshman Owen, aged 32, is a specialist in football-specific conditioning and injury prevention techniques.
A Uefa qualified coach, he held a role with the FA of Wales and spent seven years as Head of Sports Science at Ibrox.
“Sheffield United is a big club and the expectation of the fans is really high, just like it was at Rangers,” Owen added.
“The manager is keen to put a long-term plan and structure in place, that people can buy into.
“But in the short-term, everyone wants to win the league and get promoted.
“If we are in and around the Play-Offs again in our first season, that would be a big thing - based both on the clubs who have come down, and the budgets other teams have.”
As a player, Weir experienced life in the top divisions of both England and Scotland, and admitted that his experience of English football’s lower leagues was limited.
Owen, however, started his playing career at Wrexham before moving into coaching whilst at the Racecourse Ground.
“Wrexham were in League One at the time, so I know all about the standard and physicality of the legaue.
“There is certainly a physical demand imposed on players with the number of games.
“There are some big teams in there now, so the standards are getting higher all the time.”
Weir, who has given the green light for a home friendly against Greek side Atromitos on July 26, is excited about the prospect of Lyle Taylor completing his switch to Bramall Lane.
“He has all the hallmarks of a modern-day striker,” Weir said, of the 23-year-old former Falkirk man.
“He is someone I have known about for a while.”