Blades must re-establish their identity, says departing defender Neill Collins

Neill Collins says Sheffield United must return to being hard to beat
Neill Collins says Sheffield United must return to being hard to beat
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Departing defender Neill Collins believes Sheffield United must re-establish their identity if they are to eventually achieve promotion back to the Championship.

United host relegation-threatened Oldham Athletic this afternoon 12th in League One, six points off their South Yorkshire rivals Barnsley in sixth.

And Collins, who yesterday mutually terminated his United contract to sign for North American Soccer League side Tampa Bay Rowdies, believes they must evoke the Bramall Lane spirit of old if they are to avoid spending another season in English football’s third tier.

“People like to think that a football club’s troubles can be put down to one thing, that it’s black and white, but I don’t think it is,” the Scottish defender told The Star last night.

“There are a million things that could change at the club. I have lots of opinions about what I’d do, but I’ll keep those to myself.

“First and foremost, the club needs to get back to what it was when I played here for other teams before.

“The fans are fantastically passionate, and they want a side that is hard to beat and tough to play against.

“You expect that when you come to Yorkshire and I think United can still do that with the personnel they have there.

“But that’s just my opinion.”

Nigel Adkins, the United manager, added: “Collo’s been here for a good period of time and he’s been a good professional. But it’s time for him to move on now, and we wish him well.

“It’s the next stage of his career now, and he can go and enjoy it. I’ve been pleased with Alex Baptiste since he came in on loan, and we have a few centre-halves with Chris Basham, David Edgar, Jay McEveley and Harrison McGahey.”

Adkins refused to elaborate on reports linking him with a loan move for Liverpool’s Ryan Kent, but admits he is still looking to strengthen in the emergency loan window.

“It’s still open,” Adkins said,” and we’re working hard to keep improving. That will continue.

“We’ve assessed a lot of players for availability, quality, can we get them? Will they be involved?

“But overall, I’m really pleased with how the players have applied themselves this week and I’m excited going into this weekend’s game.”

The United boss hopes to have McEveley and Billy Sharp available to face Oldham.