Boss still chasing his first win says statistics don’t tell the real story and Blades are capable of beating relegation
THERE are lies, damn lies and statistics.
Sheffield United, by their own admission, are locked in a desperate battle for Championship survival. But, according to Micky Adams, the facts and figures spawned by a troubling run of results do not tell the entire story.
Hence his proclamation at Shirecliffe yesterday that all is not lost in the fight to avoid relegation.
“I’d love to be able to come in here and say the players have let themselves down,” he said. “That they’ve let me down and the club down but I can’t.
“They’ve been giving everything - their all.
“What do people want us to do? Do they want us to just give up the ghost, to just stop trying?
“Well that’s not going to happen so long as I’m here.”
Nevertheless, despite his bullish stance, United’s manager is acutely aware that only a win at Scunthorpe tonight would truly reinvigorate his team’s season. They travel to Glanford Park searching for their first victory since December, 22nd in the table and with a record that reads W0 D4 L6 during Adams’ short stint at the helm.
Defeat would see Ian Baraclough’s squad leapfrog them in the table and crank open the trapdoor which leads to League One a few inches further.
“Of course I’m not enjoying it at the moment,” Adams said. “But it’s just another stat that people are going to keep going on about until we win.
“I’m not panicking. What I do know is that we’re going to win a game of football soon. If we don’t then of course there’ll be consequences. Whatever they might be that’s not my decision to take.”
So is Adams, who ridiculed claims that a spell in the third division could help United’s to rebuild, worried his position is under threat?
“That’s not the impression I get from the people at the top. There’s still a lot to play for.
“We’re not on the edge of the cliff holding on by our fingernails. I don’t want to give that impression.
“I read a headline after Crystal Palace that said ‘Adams is on the brink’. The only thing that I’m on the brink on, as far as I’m concerned at least, is trying to win a game of football.”
Saturday’s match at Selhurst Park was United’s season in miniature. Despite appearing comfortable in possession, they failed to create the number of openings their territorial advantage deserved and were duly beaten by a superb Darren Ambrose effort.
“He’s the only person who could have scored that goal,” Dougie Freedman, Adams’ counterpart in the capital, offered afterwards. He was. And he did.
Adams must try to unearth similar quality in his own camp. Bjorn Helge Riise, on loan from Fulham, could yet provide United with the same cutting edge. But, against Scunthorpe they could be forced to do without Shane Lowry (thigh), Richard Cresswell (knee), Sam Vokes (hamstring) and Lee Williamson (back).
Adams, however, insisted that the latter’s condition is not linked to the problem that recently required surgery to correct.
“It’s just the sheer volume of work we’ve been doing, to be honest. Lee’s been playing a lot of games.”
United head to Lincolnshire having mustered 29 points from 32 outings so far. Since 2006, teams have required an average of 51 to avoid finishing in the bottom three.
Hull survived with 49 in 2007 while, 12 months later, Coventry recorded 53. That means United could need to secure around 22 more from their remaining 14 fixtures, an average of 1.6 per match as opposed to the 1.1 they boast now.
“Scunthorpe is going to be a tough one,” Adams, who watched them beat Nottingham Forest last Wednesday, said. “The pitch there is a leveller because, as Derby admitted after their draw there this weekend, you can’t pass the ball on it.
“It’s a derby of sorts and it’s going to be a blood and thunder game. But it’s definitely not a game we should fear.”