David Weir, the Sheffield United manager, admits Crawley Town will present his team with a tough test at Bramall Lane tonight.
But, despite the South Yorkshire’s club’s disappointing run of form, Weir remains convinced it is one they can pass with flying colours.
“I’ve seen Crawley on DVD and watched them with my own eyes,” he said. “They are a very good team with some talented players. Including those out wide.
“They’ve been together and had a settled team for quite a while now and are reaping the benefits of that. They are on a good run, doing exceptionally well and so will provide us with a stern test. Hopefully, though, it is one we can pass.”
United slipped to the bottom of the League One table when they were beaten at Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend.
However, members of both camps later insisted the 2-0 scoreline did not reflect the course of a match which Weir’s charges dominated for long periods.
“We’re looking forward to the game against Crawley,” he said. “It’s under the floodlights and it’s always a special atmosphere at our ground when that’s the case.
“I don’t know why but if you ask most players, the matches they always remember the most are those under lights.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good crowd and all of the players are looking forward to it.”
Tony McMahon, the United defender, insisted that the squad remains “100 per cent” behind Weir and his staff during yesterday’s pre-match media briefing at the Redtooth Academy.
“I’m really proud of the lads because, no word of a lie, they have all bought 100 per cent into what we are trying to do here,” Weir added. “I know it’s difficult for them in terms of the results so that is a credit to them as professionals and people.”
While United will enter this evening’s contest hoping to avoid a seventh consecutive league defeat, eighth placed Town are unbeaten in their previous five outings.
Richie Barker, Weir’s opposite number, said: “Probably for the first time Crawley Town are going to go to somewhere like this as favourites to win the game.
“That is purely based on league position and nothing else and I would have to say I don’t particularly think we are favourites. It would be hard for me to argue against it when we are eighth and they are bottom but they are certainly not a bottom of the table team.
“They are far better than their league position suggests. We have had them watched a few times and they pushed Wolves right to the end last Saturday and we all know how good a team Wolves are.
“We have got to go there being confident but not complacent. We should take confidence from a five game unbeaten run but you should never turn up and look at the league table and assume you are going to win and certainly not at Bramall Lane.”
Town won last season’s corresponding fixture at Bramall Lane and Barker added: “It can go one way or another. When you go to places like that you can either turn the crowd against them which becomes a bit of a ball and chain or they can go a goal up and the crowd get behind them and become like a 12th man.
“That is one of the things you face when you go to places like Sheffield United, Wolves or Bristol City where the crowd is that big it can work one way or the other and we’ve got to work it to our advantage which is easier said than done.
“Last year we thought if it was 0-0 at half-time there would be an element of the crowd that would be disappointed their team were drawing with Crawley Town and it might work in our favour and the plan worked.”