Sheffield United: Why Nigel will never say never again

Nigel Adkins has urged his Sheffield United team to learn the lessons of Scunthorpe's play-off final success seven years ago as the battle for a place in this season's end-of-season knockouts approaches its climax.

Friday, 25th March 2016, 4:59 am
Nigel Adkins is adamant Sheffield United can still reach the play-offs ©2015 Sport Image all rights reserved

Adkins was manager of the north Lincolnshire club when it reached the Championship following a tense victory over Millwall at Wembley in 2009.

Scunthorpe only forced themselves into the top six when Cliff Byrne scored an 88th minute winner against Tranmere Rovers on the last day of the campaign and Adkins, whose United side have also been written-off as no-hopers following a disappointing sequence of results, is adamant there are parallels between their respective campaigns.

Nigel Adkins and Cliff Byrne (right) achieved promotion with Scunthorpe in 2009

“There were times at Scunthorpe when people wrote us off,” he said. “Very much so, it happened all the time.

“Our time at Scunthorpe were great days and great memories that no-one can take away. For a football club of that size to achieve what Scunthorpe did was great. There are many attributes that were part of that. But we are here now at Sheffield United and we are trying to win the same prize.”

United prepared for today’s game against Crewe Alexandra 12th in the League One table and six points behind neighbours Barnsley who occupy the final play-off berth. Martyn Woolford, who moved to Bramall Lane soon after Adkins’ appointment in June, scored the goal which propelled Scunthorpe to promotion at the Londoners’ expense.

“I was at Scunthorpe and it was brilliant because we achieved something,” Adkins said. “It showed you have to keep believing. That is the important thing.

Martyn Woolford scored at Wembley ©2016 Sport Image all rights reserved

“We work very hard and we have to keep believing. Sometimes, you need that little bit of fortune. But it is about winning games. We have a spirit about ourselves. We just need that grit and resilience. I am not apologising for saying that because it is exactly what we need.”

Nigel Adkins and Cliff Byrne (right) achieved promotion with Scunthorpe in 2009
Martyn Woolford scored at Wembley ©2016 Sport Image all rights reserved