Alan Biggs: Sheffield United must keep moving foward

editorial image

Nigel Clough and his players will have known there was a job on this week - even more than last.

It’s that attitude which took them to Wembley in the first place.

And sometimes there’s a greater challenge after the big event than before it. Sheffield United have come too far, done too much to let the deflation conquer the elation of their achievement in so nearly becoming the first third tier team to reach an FA Cup final.

Yet the task of recovery, emotionally and physically, cannot be underplayed. Clough will need big characters against Stevenage tomorrow. Fortunately he has them.

Let’s hear from a few. Michael Doyle: “You can always feel the vibe in a dressing room. If you need to shout, you can tell.

I’m just one of those characters. Yes, I’ll get about things. That’s the way I am. I’m not afraid to mix it up and be opinionated. . . to give a rollocking on the field, no problem.”

But here’s the pay off from the Blades captain: “You don’t have to do that too often with these lads. They’re great. It’s the team spirit that’s really taken hold here. We’re all playing for one another.”

Goalkeeper Mark Howard: “We’re only a small group as squads go and we’re very close knit. The gaffer’s used that to his advantage. If someone’s doing well, we’ll pat them on the back and if someone’s not doing it, they get told! We all know our place.”

Centre back Neill Collins: “I think the whole club atmosphere has changed since the manager came here. We’ve seen a never-say-die attitude and that is what Sheffield United is based on.

“The fans have been behind us the whole time and there’s certainly now a really positive feeling amongst them. That should carry on.

It’s time to keep this club going forward.”

So many good things. So much determination not to let them go to waste. That’s very much the mood of Bramall Lane on and off the field this week after a turnaround in fortunes that is almost off the scale.

Last Sunday’s enthralling semi-final with Hull City, in which United twice led before going down 5-3, does not belong with all of those other big day let-downs. Hands up from me as I thought they’d win but this is unmistakably a club on the up. A couple of signings, including at least one striker, ought to top and tail promotion.

The board set up is substantial and keeps a suitable distance, the manager is right and so are the vast majority of these players. I rest my case on that after many fans argued otherwise during David Weir’s brief tenure.

But it will be tough for those players, even against League One’s bottom team, in the Easter opener. There is no doubt whatsoever, though, that the crowd will help the tough get going.