Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough has warned his team ‘You’re not out of danger yet’ despite the club’s resurgent form, writes James Shield.
But Clough, speaking ahead of Saturday’s League One encounter with Shrewsbury Town, insisted his decision to downplay talk of making a surprise assault on the play-offs should not be interpreted as a lack of ambition.
“It’s important to confront reality,” Clough, who celebrated his appointment by orchestrating last weekend’s victory over Crewe Alexandra, said. “Immediately after the first game I had people wanting to ask about the top six.
“Let’s just remember where we are and take things one step at a time. Our first priority is still to get ourselves much higher up the table.
“That’s not being unambitious. It’s just being truthful and realistic.”
Clough, who was introduced to Kell Brook when the boxer visited the Redtooth Academy yesterday, cited “stature” and “reputation” as major factors behind his decision to take charge of United earlier this month.
But he added: “You don’t get points for tradition. You don’t get points for having big crowds or being a big club in your respective division.
“The only way that you get points is by putting in performances. By giving your maximum and working hard.
“Teams might view Wolves and ourselves as being the big scalps in this competition. Because of that, you know they’ll be giving everything they’ve got so, before anything else, you have got to match that and give even more.”
United travel to Greenhous Meadow 20th in the table - one place above the relegation zone - hoping to stretch their unbeaten run to four games. Town are 18th and without a win in three.
“We’ve had a great week,” Clough said. “But lets not get carried away and still realise exactly where we are.
“We’re not clear yet and there is still an awful lot to do. That has to be the main focus.
“We’ve taken seven points from a possible nine and that’s very good. It’s given us something to build on.
“But the reminder is that, if we hadn’t taken those points, then the table would make worrying reading.”
“I’m a big believer that, in football, if you do the basics well then you will be rewarded,” Clough added. “Look after yourselves and each other by trying not to make avoidable mistakes because those are the things which often change games as we’ve seen several examples of on television recently.”