Boss Nigel Adkins has outlined his long-term blueprint for Sheffield United - but has refused to write off his side’s chances of more immediate success.
United make the trip to Fleetwood Town this afternoon just four points off the play-offs but, more importantly, with five teams separating them from the play-off places.
Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat at home to league leaders Burton Albion intensified the frustration on the Bramall Lane terraces but Adkins said: “We can not, and will not, stop fighting.
“Everybody, barring one or two, is beating each other. It’s an inconsistemnt division but if we can get in to the play-offs then we’ll be in there on a run with momentum. That would put us in a good position.”
“Yes, we are sitting where we shouldn’t be in this division,” Adkins, who led both Scunthorpe and Southampton out of this division before arriving at Bramall Lane, added.
“It’s my responsibility to lead and drive and push everybody forward. I take responsibility because I am the manager, of course.
“Everybody has got an opinion and that’s what is great about football.”
With just 12 games of an inconsistent campaign remaining, events at Highbury this afternoon could help shape United’s immediate future. But with a large number of their bloated playing squad set to become free agents in the summer, an important transitional period for the club is also looming.
“This is probably the biggest club many of these players have played for, and will play for,” Adkins added.
“You’ve got to have a special mentality to deal with that and the expectation.
“I want a team that’s full of life, is vibrant and can pass the football. Dominate the opposition. It takes time but we will get there.
“I’ve got a good relationship with both owners and I share their frustration because we should be higher than where we are.
“But we will get there and we’ll be working hard to do it. We aren’t where we’ll want to be but I think it’s important that we have stability and get a team on the pitch that our fans can be proud of.
“But we are still fighting, now, for the opportunity to get promoted. We still have a season to finish and that’s a big thing. Remember that. Until you’ve been in the hotseat, the pressure totally different. But I love it and I relish it.”
Adkins revealed he held a series of meetings, both collective and individual, with his playing staff after Tuesday’s disappointing and potentially-damaging defeat.
“You’ve got to be ready to make a mistake without fear of reprisal. But you can’t keep making the same ones,” he added.
“Sometimes, it’s easy to bark-up about what people are doing wrong and what they can’t do. Sometimes it’s good to remind people what they can do and what they are good at.
“Confidence is a big thing in football as it is in life.”