Mark Howard has accepted that inconsistent form and haphazard selections cost Sheffield United promotion last term, writes James Shield.
The goalkeeper made the admission after hearing new manager Nigel Adkins outline plans to improve performances at “both ends of the pitch” when their latest bid for the Championship gets underway at Gillingham next month.
Citing the previous regime’s failure to establish a settled partnership at centre-half as a major factor behind United’s defeat in the play-off semi-finals, Howard said: “There wasn’t a great deal wrong. It was just that inconsistency.
“We never had a fully settled spine with regards to the centre-backs. Hopefully the gaffer will sort that out.
“I play just behind them and you can see that the changing of positions imbalances you.
“We rely on each other. Me on them just as much as they do on me. When you are unsettled, it doesn’t help your form.”
United proved alarmingly vulnerable from set-pieces en route to May’s defeat by Swindon Town with Nigel Clough, Adkins’ immediate predecessor, relieved of his duties soon after a frenzied 5-5 draw at the County Ground.
Howard denied his words should be interpreted as an attempt to apportion blame, acknowledging instead that his own contribution during the closing stages of the campaign left much to be desired.
“It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past,” he said. We all know we’ve got to kick-on, It’s all about this year.
“We thought the same last year. But we were very inconsistent in terms of our form.
“There were lads who came in and started well and then faded away a bit, myself included at the end when I was struggling with injury. We were inconsistent as a squad too.”