Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, believes his side have developed the ruthless streak required to mount a challenge for promotion next season.
And speaking after yesterday’s goalless draw at Tranmere Rovers, which ended United’s faint play-off hopes, Clough insisted they should be proud of their efforts in recent weeks.
United were languishing in the relegation zone when the former England international took charge six months ago but travelled to Prenton Park with a mathematical chance of overhauling their rivals from London Road after winning three and drawing three of their last seven games
Clough, admitting his players are “mentally and physically tired” following a gruelling fixture schedule, told The Star: “If we want to be right up there this time next year then we are going to have to come to grounds like this one and battle hard. That’s exactly what the lads have done out there.
“We weren’t at our best but that’s understandable given everything they’ve invested lately. A lot has been demanded of those lads and they’ve dug deep.”