Danny Wilson has implored Sheffield United’s supporters to back his side all the way to League One promotion this season, insisting: “We want to go up just as badly as you do”.
Wilson, speaking after his side were booed after being held to a goalless draw by Leyton Orient on Tuesday, admitted that the frustration from the stands has transferred itself onto the Bramall Lane pitch - and fears it could affect the performances of his players.
“There’s a bit of nervousness about,” the United chief said.
“When the fans start oohing and aahing when we misplace a pass, it puts the young lads out there under pressure and they stop wanting to do certain things.
“It isn’t going to go right all the time, and we can’t expect them to get behind the team no matter what happens.
“But that’s what we want in an ideal world. Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world, but the last thing the lads want is someone jumping on their back.”
Wilson saw his side drop to second in League One after the “frustrating” draw with Orient.
“The fans want promotion, I understand that, but we want promotion too,” the former Northern Ireland international said.
“There are certain ways which, in my opinion, we need a little help along the way.
“When they get behind the lads it can transfer on to the pitch, and when there’s anxiousness it can transfer on to the pitch too and that’s when indecision starts to creep in.
“It was another frustrating night for us, but credit to Orient - they came with a game plan and stopped us playing the way we like to play.
“Sometimes it’s easier to destroy than to build - you can knock a house down easily enough, but can you build it up again?
“It’s easier sometimes to stop a team playing, than to try and win the game.
“But we’ve got to look at ourselves and ask, could we have been more clinical?
“Maybe we could have, but we weren’t and we move on.”
The point did, however, extend United’s unbeaten run to five games after wins over Shrewsbury, Bury, Colchester and Bournemouth.
They now travel over the Pennines on Saturday, to relegation-threatened Oldham, in confident mood.
“A return of 13 points out of 15 is not bad at all,” Wilson stressed.
“If you’d offered me that five games ago, I’d have snatched your hand off. And if we do that over the next five games, I’ll be more than happy.
“We kept another clean sheet, and that’s what we will build our success on.
“No-one is more disappointed than the lads in there that we didn’t get another win, but it keeps our run going and we take our record into another important game at the weekend.”
Wilson is likely to again be without the services of winger Jamie Murphy, who missed the Orient game with a groin injury.
The Scot has scored twice in United colours since making a move south of the border from Motherwell.
“We don’t know yet if he’ll be available for Saturday,” Wilson said.
“We only found out on the eve of the Orient game that he’d be missing, which was a blow.
“We’re disappointed to lose him, of course, but we’d rather he misses one or two games, instead of six or seven if he aggravates it.
“That’s the way we’re looking at it.”
Wilson was enthused by the home debut of loan signing Dominic Poleon, who was taken off just after the hour mark.
“He’s a very positive player,” Wilson said.
“He looks to run at opponents, and that’s important. He ran himself into the ground, along with a few of our other young players.”
Wilson, too, reserved special praise for goalkeeper George Long, who earned United’s point against Orient with a series of fine one-on-one saves.
With goalkeeper Mark Howard still struggling to recover from his muscle injury, Long is expected to finish the season as United’s first-choice goalkeeper with the experienced Danny Coyne as his understudy.
Oldham striker Matt Smith, meanwhile, insists that the Latics will be full of confidence when United visit Boundary Park on Saturday.
Oldham have already claimed the scalps of Nottingham Forest and Liverpool on their way to the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Their adventure was ended in midweek with a 3-1 replay defeat at Everton and Smith, who scored Oldham’s consolation goal at Goodison Park, said: “Sheffield United is a huge game for us now.
“But we’re in tremendous form in the league now, having won our last three league games, and we go into Saturday knowing that we’re not going to face a better team than Everton.
“So we’re full of confidence.”
Former United favourite Tony Philliskirk is in temporary charge of Oldham, following the resignation of Paul Dickov.
His son, Danny, was released by United in January.
* Follow Danny on Twitter: @dannyhall04