Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, will not ask his players to curb their competitive instincts despite expressing concerns about the number of times they are being penalised during games.
Adkins made the pledge after watching referee Iain Williamson issue eight cautions and one red card during last weekend’s victory over Coventry City at Bramall Lane.
David Edgar, Dean Hammond, Billy Sharp and Jay McEveley were all booked by the match official with the latter deemed fortunate not to be sent-off for a first-half challenge on Ruben Lameiras.
But Adkins made no apologies for adopting such a strong-arm approach and promised more of the same during Saturday’s visit to his former club Scunthorpe.
“Unfortunately, when you go near someone at this moment in time, the ref seems to blow his whistle,” Adkins said. “You have to be committed, you have to be organised and it’s all about being competitive.
“We put a big side out there (against City) and everyone worked hard for each other.”
Although he refuses to discuss the matter publicly, Adkins is known to value his constructive relationship with the Professional Game Match Officials Board and members responsible for appointing Football League referees. The 50-year-old, who will be without the suspended Che Adams for the trip to Glanford Park, frequently refuses to comment on disciplinary matters before consulting post-match reports.
Nevertheless, Adkins made an exception after hearing Lameiras complain that McEveley should have been dismissed following their skirmish three days ago while the forward also insisted his captain Sam Ricketts had walked for “something and nothing” following Sharp’s 80th minute goal.
“We wanted to intercept,” Adkins said. “We wanted to tackle. Whenever that happened, the referee blew.
“There was one ball we put over the top to Matty Done, he got pulled back and the ref called it but then booked the person responsible. That could have been an entirely different scenario.
“Dean Hammond put in a good old fashioned shoulder charge on the far side (of the pitch) and the ref blew for that too. But supporters want that commitment and we, as staff, want it from the players too. I think that’s the least you should be asking for and it was good to see from us.”