Sheffield United: Stars ordered to relish the challenge

Sheffield United's Harry Maguire, Callum McFadzean and Lyle Taylor  � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United's Harry Maguire, Callum McFadzean and Lyle Taylor � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

At Rangers, David Weir once admitted, you remember defeats more than victories, writes James Shield.

Far from being a cause for celebration, winning simply brings an over-riding sense of relief.

Life in the Steel City will never prove as demanding or claustrophobic an experience as membership of the Old Firm. But, Sheffield United’s new manager acknowledges, so long as his team languish in the third tier of English football then the weight of expectation placed upon their shoulders will be similarly huge.

Last weekend’s draw with Colchester was, by Weir’s own admission, hardly the most exhilarating of results. But, in a marked contrast to some of his predecessors, he insisted United’s players should be inspired rather than intimidated by the challenge of convincing the sceptics.

“People are entitled to voice an opinion,” Weir, who made over 200 appearances for the Glaswegian giants, said. “That’s not a criticism and as footballers you deal with that.

“We are at a club that’s expected to win which, brings its challenges, but should also be welcomed.”

With Jake Eyre’s prolific form at academy level being rewarded with a seat on the bench against Colchester, United’s squad boasted an average age of just 23.5 for the meeting with Joe Dunne’s side. Harry Maguire, another Redtooth Academy graduate, was responsible for scoring the goal which secured a point following Freddie Sears’ opener for the visitors.

Having made good on his promise that developing home-grown talent will feature prominently on his ‘to-do’ list - “It’s the direction we must take” - Weir, speaking ahead of Saturday’s derby at Bradford City, has nevertheless been quick to acknowledge the contribution of experienced campaigners such as Neill Collins and captain Michael Doyle.

“They give the young lads so much guidance,” Weir said. “And that’s invaluable both during the week and also in games.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1