Sheffield United: Young at heart...older in attitude

Chris Morgan - Sheffield United. Pic Martyn Harrison.
Chris Morgan - Sheffield United. Pic Martyn Harrison.

Chris Morgan says honesty, intensity and integrity are the bedrocks of his Sheffield United regime.

The real hallmark, however, is a willingness to deploy the graduates of the South Yorkshire club’s youth academy at critical moments in games.

Morgan, whose team travel to Huish Park today for the second leg of their League One play-off semi-final against Yeovil Town, underlined his faith in Bramall Lane’s next generation by turning to Callum McFadzean, Joe Ironside and Elliott Whitehouse during last week’s meeting with Gary Johnson’s side.

Having seen McFadzean repay his faith by scoring the only goal of the contest during the opening moments of the second-half, the former United centre half told The Star he will not hesitate to do exactly the same in Somerset despite knowing Bramall Lane’s hopes of staging Championship football next season hinge upon the result.

“We’re not doing these lads a favour,” Morgan said. “They are involved in the first-team squad on merit and nothing else.

“These lads are mature players. They go about their business and profession in a very impressive way.

“But the thing which really impressed me is the fact they aren’t just mature footballers, they are also mature characters too.

“And that’s why they are where they are now. They’ve shown exactly the right attitude and they’ve worked hard.

“They’re not the only ones by any stretch of the imagination but they do deserve the chance. First and foremost because they have the talent and ability.

“Forget their age. They are being judged exactly the same as anyone else.”

“Callum did ever so well and got his reward,” Morgan added. “Joe did very well too.

“People might look at Elliott and say he only had a few minutes but they were crucial minutes when we were looking to see things out. So that tells you all you need to know.”

United’s achievements so far this term have been built on defensive solidity and they boarded the coach south last night knowing that recording yet another clean sheet would see them qualify for the divisional showpiece at Wembley.

Chris Porter, who has enjoyed a new lease of life since Morgan’s appointment nearly a month ago, said: “The lads at the back have done ever so well and, speaking as a centre-forward, knowing that they’ve got that ability to shut teams out takes the pressure of us.

“It means that we might only need one or two chances to win a game rather than six or seven.

“We might not score as many goals as we did last year but we’ve changed what we do.

“I do reckon we’re much harder to break down because us attackers drop back to help out when required and the midfielders can sit a little deeper too.

“That makes us difficult to get through. Everyone chips in but the boys at the back do deserve the utmost credit.”

Yeovil prepared for Friday’s match at the Football Association’s state-of-the-art St George’s Park facility near Burton.

United, however, rejected to opportunity to establish a temporary training camp en route to the South-west, preferring to base themselves at Shirecliffe instead.

“We’re just going to go about our business at normal,” Morgan explained. “It’s just a case of different preferences.

“We’ve got a good complex here with everything we need so there’s no need to take the lads away.

“Player’s don’t always like it. There’s no right or wrong and it’s just a case of what suits you best.

“This suits us best and so that’s what we’ve done. We’ll do our work here and then just travel down as usual.”

Morgan, whose position will be reviewed later this summer, added: “Going back to the young lads, people forget that Harry (Maguire) and George (Long) are still young too.

“But they are important players for us. Very important. So age is no barrier.

“The most important thing is applications and ability, the way they go about their work.”