Stephen McGinn has revealed how the fear of failure is helping Sheffield United rediscover their form.
He made the admission after Saturday’s goalless draw at Stevenage extended their unbeaten run in all competitions to six matches.
McGinn, signed during the close season, endured a miserable start to his career in South Yorkshire as United found themselves languishing in the relegation zone after losing nine of their opening 13 games.
However, Clough’s appointment two months ago has heralded a significant upturn in fortunes and McGinn told The Star: “There’s a determination among the lads now that, come what may, we are not going to lose. That there’s absolutely no way we’re going back to experiencing the things we did at the beginning of the campaign.
“To be honest, we’re almost scared to do that and I think that can only be a good thing. The atmosphere around the dressing room now is really good and there’s a really positive outlook.
“When things weren’t going well, it felt absolutely horrible. You’d go back in there after a match and nobody would want to speak and, if we were on the road, it would still be like that on the coach all the way home.
“Things couldn’t be more different now. There’s a really good feeling and we’re getting back that ruthless mentality that you need to achieve things at any level.”
Clough described United’s attitude at The Lamex Stadium as “absolutely spot on” after watching them dominate long periods of a contest played in driving wind and rain.
Aidy White and Jose Baxter both struck the woodwork while Shaun Miller also enjoyed chances either side of the break.
“The only thing that was missing was a goal,” Clough, whose team remain 19th in the League One table ahead of Thursday’s match against Oldham Athletic, said. “Other than that, it was pretty much a complete performance.”
United, who lost the corresponding fixture last season 4-0, reported no fresh injury concerns as they enter the festive schedule and, echoing those sentiments, McGinn said: “I heard some of the boys saying how much that result meant to Stevenage and what they were like after the final whistle then. But I think they were more pleased to hear it than we were this time around.
“We were unfortunate not to come away with more but we’ll stay focused and keep on working hard.
“The gaffer is encouraging us to work hard for each other but express ourselves whenever we’re on the ball and you can see we are creating lots more chances.
“We’ve got to try and make sure we put some of those away but we’ve got a lost of trust in the lads at the back and that is enabling us to create more chances.”