SHEFFIELD United have blazed a trail towards the top of the division courtesy of some delicious football and prowess in front of goal.
But despite playing for such high-stakes, Danny Wilson insists his team will not sacrifice their attacking principles when they return to League One action at Rochdale tonight.
“If we change our approach then we’ll only be half as effective,” the United manager said. “We prefer to play to what our strengths are as a team.”
Which means, his counterpart across the Pennines acknowledged yesterday, Spotland is bracing itself for an all out assault.
Wilson admitted earlier this month that he has a preferred pairing-up front but refused to divulge the identities of the players concerned.
Ched Evans, who has hit the target 32 times since September, undoubtedly forms one half. Richard Cresswell, whose selfless approach has brought the best out of his fellow striker, almost certainly the other having started 35 matches so far this term.
But what are the secrets behind their success? How do you identify which centre-forwards are capable of forming a prolific partnership?
Paul Peschisolido, the former United centre-forward and Burton Albion manager, said: “I wish there was a strict formula, a template that worked no matter what but unfortunately there isn’t.
“These things just tend to click and often there’s no scientific reason why.
“As a player, I could tell within an instant whether it was going to work with someone. You just knew within seconds of either being out on the pitch during a game or a possession drill in training.
“If it doesn’t work right from the start then it’s never going to work.
“You can improve it slightly but it’s never going to develop into what you hope it’s going to be.”
United briefly climbed back to second in the table when they beat Bournemouth three days ago. Both Evans and Cresswell were on the scoresheet before Zavon Hines’ effort condemned the hosts to a nervous finish.
Neil Shipperley, a member of the United squad which reached the Premier League in 2006, echoed Peschisolido’s sentiments but told The Star that personality has no bearing on performance.
“My best partnership was probably (at Wimbledon) with David Connolly,” he said. “As a striker, your first instinct is to score so you’ve got to be selfish in that regard but we worked well together because we had different strengths.
“You don’t have to get on off the pitch. I’ve played with people who, to be frank, I couldn’t care less about what they were up to away from football.
“But in a match situation, you’ve got to be switched on together and be willing, without giving up what you’re good at as individuals, to help each other too.”
Peschisolido, who made over 100 appearances for United, added: “Sometimes, it does help if one of the players has a different style.
“If they are happy to do the running and donkey work and let their other player just concentrate on putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I’ve seen it before when there are two strikers who on their own can score goals for fun but who just can’t play together.
“I knew within seconds of playing with The Chief (Wayne Allison) at United that it was going to work.
“We hardly ever played long periods together but there was something instinctive there.
“I do think it’s important that if you’ve got people with two different styles that one doesn’t feel as if he’s giving something up.”
Wilson, who included Ryan Flynn and Chris Porter in the squad which overcame Bournemouth, is unlikely to make wholesale changes for the meeting with John Coleman’s Rochdale who dropped deeper into relegation trouble after being beaten by Yeovil Town.
Wilson said: “We’re not looking ahead. We’re just focusing on the next match because that’s the most important.