Goals, not broken bones, will help Caolan Lavery win over Sheffield United’s more militant followers.
But, as another player who crossed the Steel City divide revealed earlier this week, a fracture or two can certainly help.
“I always remember my first goal for the club,” Richard Cresswell, the former United centre-forward, said. “Not least because it was so b****y painful. I went flying in during a match against Doncaster Rovers, turned the ball home, then went crashing into the post. I cracked a few ribs doing that which certainly wasn’t nice but, looking back, it proved to everyone that I was ready to put myself on the line.”
Cresswell made 141 appearances for United after leaving Stoke City in 2009. Despite going on to spend three-and-half seasons at Bramall Lane, his arrival initially caused disquiet among sections of the home support, Because, like Lavery, he had represented Sheffield Wednesday earlier in his career.
“My first appearance for United was as a substitute and, when I came on, there were quite a few boos,” Cresswell (pictured) said. “Not from everybody but more than enough for me to hear. But, do you know what? I just thought to myself ‘I’ll show you. I’ll let you know what I’m all about.’ There was this perception that being at Hillsborough as a youngster meant I was Wednesday through and through. Actually, that wasn’t the case. But, looking back, being so determined to show people they were wrong probably helped my case.”
Lavery, a former Northern Ireland international, became the 30th player to cross the Steel City divide when he joined United from Wednesday earlier this week. The 23-year-old, who has signed a long-term contract with the League One club, rejected Hillsborough’s offer at the end of last season and could make his debut for Chris Wilder’s side against Gillingham on Sunday (kick-off 2.15pm).
Although the decision to sign Lavery has not exactly been contentious - Leon Clarke, another ex-Wednesday player, is also expected to feature at Priestfield Stadium - Cresswell offered the youngster a few pointers about what his new employers expect.
“The one thing the United fans want to see is absolute effort,” Cresswell continued. “They want to see someone leaving everything they’ve got out there on the pitch. If you do that, show that honesty, then make no mistake they’ll get behind you. They’ll back you 100 per cent. There was hardly a time when I didn’t play with a pain somewhere or other. But I think they (the fans) knew I always gave my all because of that.”
United, who have signed 12 new players since Wilder’s appointment four months ago, paid £300,000 to acquire Lavery’s registration with further add-ons possible over the course of his contract. They travel to Kent 20th in the table - 14 places behind Gillingham - but Cresswell, who retired in 2013, said: “Chris is the right man for the job without a shadow of a doubt. You can see what he’s doing, the things he’s putting in place, and he’s a perfect fit for the club. He’ll get United back to where they belong. I was chuffed to bits when he got his first win (against Oxford United) last weekend. For Chris and also the club because I know how much it means.”