Chris Wilder last night claimed his players have already demonstrated they can cope with the pressure of trying to win promotion as the League One season enters a critical phase.
And, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game at Peterborough, the Sheffield United manager insisted the chasing pack must now prove likewise during the remainder of the campaign.
United climbed back to the top of the table after beating AFC Wimbledon six days ago and Wilder said: “There will be twists and turns, but from our point of view I see confident players. Players getting on the ball and wanting to try things.
“We play consistently under pressure here. We know what’s at stake and what this club is expected to do. Everyone is fine with that because they know when they step through the door.
“Neal Ardley (the AFC Wimbledon manager) said to me on Saturday ‘you play like a team which is always 1-0 down.’
“I think that’s a great compliment to the players, about them not being complacent, always looking to drive things on. They have handled the pressure of playing for this club. They are thriving on it.”
United travel to Bristol Rovers on Tuesday before facing their nearest challengers Scunthorpe and Bolton Wanderers at Bramall Lane. Second-placed Scunthorpe have invested significant sums bolstering their squad following Graham Alexander’s appointment while Phil Parkinson’s side, despite having an estimated wage bill of £10m, find themselves in third.
With both Scunthorpe and Bolton preparing for back to back home games, Wilder said: “We are after maximum points, and it would be a great effort with a Saturday-Tuesday scenario. They are tough games but we are more than capable of getting positive results.
“Other teams have got two home games, and we know ourselves, when we played Gillingham and Fleetwood, nothing is guaranteed. It just doesn’t work like that.
“We all read the reports about teams in and around us, the state of the game, and I don’t think they have had comfortable games recently. Either away from home, or at home in games where they should have won.”
“I think there are so many teams doing well in that mid-table area, they have always got something to fight for,” Wilder added. “You have teams desperate to stay in the division. Teams like Charlton and MK Dons that are capable of winning games of football, that will look at Barnsley last year, and think if they can string five or six wins together they can get in the play-offs.
“Everybody is chasing something and so you can never, ever take things easy.”