Qualifying for this season’s League One play-offs might appear an improbable mission, writes James Shield.
But, even if they fail to complete it, Ben Davies believes Sheffield United’s recent performances against leaders Wolverhampton Wanderers and Brentford auger well for next term.
Nigel Clough acknowledged preparations for the 2014/15 campaign have already started following Tuesday’s goalless draw with Mark Warburton’s second-placed side.
And Davies, despite refusing to rule-out a late surge into the top six, predicted the manager’s emphasis on team spirit will pay dividends if United are forced to put their promotion ambitions on hold.
“We know it’s going to be difficult but we still believe we can make the play-offs,” Davies, on loan from Derby County, said. “But there is still an eye on next season.
“We know these are the teams we’ve got to beat it we want to win the league and be right up there. It fills us with confidence in a way because the lads in the dressing room were saying that’s the type of match we’d have lost one or two nil at the start of the season and I thought we looked solid.”
United were 18th in the table when Davies, who worked with Clough at the iPro Stadium resurrected his partnership with the former England international. They enter tomorrow’s meeting with Leyton Orient, five points behind Brentford in third, ranked 11th after winning eight of their last 12 games.
“The good thing is the honesty of the lads and their willingness to work,” Davies said. “When I’m at full-back, I get a good view of the game and, for example, I can see how hard that midfield three work and how much they put in for the rest of the team.
“Full credit to the gaffer and his staff for doing that. He knows the type of lads he wants to sign.
“He did that at Derby County and made sure the team spirit was excellent. That shows during the final 15 minutes of games, because that’s often when you’ve got to dig in.”