Sheffield United: Blades need sharpening says Clough

Jamie Murphy goes past Notts County's Gary Jones
Jamie Murphy goes past Notts County's Gary Jones

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough has urged his players to develop a ruthless streak or risk losing further ground on League One leaders Bristol City.

United trail Steve Cotterill’s side by eight points after being held to a 1-1 draw by fellow promotion contenders Notts County last night.

Labelling the match as a “game of two halves,” Clough said the lack of decisiveness in crossing the ball - preached during training - was “driving us mad at the moment.”

He told The Star: “We showed great character again and great endeavour. There can’t be any complaints about that. But our urgency came from going a goal behind and we don’t just want that when we’re chasing a game. We want that right from the start.

“There were times when we got ourselves into such good positions but, for some reason, chose not to cross. It’s not a case of going direct because we always want to try and pass the ball. But we can definitely be more incisive. We want to seize matches by the scruff of the neck rather than claw ourselves back in.”

Clough, who revealed new signing Chris O’Grady is set to feature against MK Dons on Tuesday, leapt to the defence of Mark Howard after his error presented Mike Edwards with County’s opener before Jamie Murphy ensured United’s powerful display after the interval did not go unrewarded.

Clough had described Howard and his counterpart Roy Carroll as the best two goalkeeper’s in the division ahead of kick-off and insisted: “I still stand by that. Mark came in at the break and held his hands-up straight away but things like that happen at times. We left Chris out as a precaution,” Clough added. “It’s his calf muscle but he’ll be fine for our next one.”