Simonsen out to win over doubting fans

Npower Championship League Division One''Sheffield Utd vs Colchester Utd''Utd's keeper Steve Simonsen
Npower Championship League Division One''Sheffield Utd vs Colchester Utd''Utd's keeper Steve Simonsen

STEVE Simonsen has spoken of his desire to win over the supporters who still doubt his capabilities at Bramall Lane.

The Sheffield United goalkeeper copped some flak from the terraces earlier this season following a series of error-strewn performances.

But, having kept five clean sheets in his last seven outings, Simonsen has revealed his determination to carry on silencing the doubters.

The vastly-experienced shot-stopper told The Star: “It is difficult with fans. You try your best; they either take to you or they won’t.

“Mistakes are going to happen and we all know that. Team mates, managers and fans accept that as well.

“I will always go out and do my best for Sheffield United. I would like to think the fans are seeing that when I go out on the pitch.

“Hopefully I can win them [the fans] over. I do hope so and I also hope we can go on as a team and bring them something to cheer about this season to make up for last season’s disappointment.”

Following a late blunder at Leyton Orient, boss Danny Wilson opted to drop Simonsen, replacing him with highly-rated youngster George Long, who is attracting the interest of Manchester United.

Long shipped in five goals in two outings, including four at home to Exeter City, which prompted Wilson into recalling Simonsen for the League One showdown at Stevenage. Since reclaiming the number one jersey, the former Everton and Stoke City player has featured prominently in United’s march up the table, producing a series of fine displays in between the sticks.

Simonsen said: “It hurts when you are left out. Your pride is hurt because you want to be out there. It is tough to watch games from the bench when you have played so many games in a row.

“But I have been left out of teams before. I was left out of Stoke’s promotion team with about eight games to go. These things happen. You just get on with it.

“It [being left out] has made me stronger. It was probably a good thing for me because it made me get my head down and doubly determined to do well when I got my chance again.

“A spell of one or two games out when you are maybe struggling for confidence or a bit of form can do you the world of good and that was certainly the case with me earlier on in the season.

“I am delighted with my own response and also the team’s which has been fantastic. I hope they [the fans] are seeing a different Steve Simonsen from the one who was left out a few months ago.

“It has gone well since I got back into the team and we have racked up a lot of clean sheets. I just hope it continues.

“We are defending well and that comes with confidence. I am pleased with my own form but it is a case of keeping things going. We still have a lot of big games to go and a lot can change between now and May.”

Simonsen is confident United possess the quality required to make a swift return to the Championship but is urging his team-mates to maintain their impressive form over the New Year period as Wilson’s men prepare to tackle Hartlepool and Carlisle in the space of three days.

“Without being cocky about it, we are in great form and we are almost halfway through the season and if we pick up the same amount of points as we have picked up in the first half of the season, we will be promoted,” he said. “If anything, we are a little disappointed we have not won more games.

“I think anything less than nine points out of nine from the Christmas schedule would be a disappointment with the way we are playing right now.

“With the run we are on, we feel as though we can beat anyone.”