Sheffield United: Clough wants character and calibre

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough has no time for shirkers
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough has no time for shirkers

Nigel Clough has told his players they must be ready to “scrap and fight” or risk being axed from the team, writes James Shield.

The Sheffield United manager issued the threat ahead of tomorrow’s League One fixture against promotion chasing Swindon Town at Bramall Lane.

Despite taking five points from their last three outings in the competition, Clough’s side remain perilously close to the relegation zone approaching the crucial festive period.

Hinting United will adopt a more expansive approach, he said: “We’ve got 27 games left to scrap and fight. Anyone who wants to be in the team must do that.

“It’s important to be solid but, equally, we can’t just sit back. Hopefully we’ll be able to attack a little bit more because, in front of our crowd, it’s important we do our fair share.

“But we don’t want to be kamikaze either. It’s all about striking the right balance because of the situation we are in.

“Every single point is going to be valuable to us.”

Clough praised United’s “maturity” during last month’s draw at leaders Leyton Orient.

However, they have won only three times on home soil this term and the former England international, who replaced David Weir at the helm in October, added: “We don’t want the lads to be anxious at home. We appreciate it’s always a little bit tenser when you give the ball away there but the only way we can turn that around is by winning football games.

“So the message is ‘Just relax but still be solid.’ We’ve done well lately but we still have to recognise where we are.

“Make sure we deal with that. Be expansive but still have that tough mentality.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1