Lessons learned

SHEFFIELD United have learned the lessons of their recent defeat at Burnley, former Wales international Gary Speed has insisted.

The South Yorkshire club face Owen Coyle's side in the Championship play-off final on Monday looking to avenge a 1-0 loss at Turf Moor last month.

Ruled out of next week's promotion decider through injury, Speed has become an important member of Kevin Blackwell's coaching team as the United manager attempts to deliver Premier League football back to Bramall Lane for the first time since their controversial relegation in 2007.

Having returned from a warm weather training camp in La Manga - "We did some really good work out there" - Speed confirmed the squad are in positive mood ahead of a match with the potential to transform livelihoods and careers.

But it is United's willingness to absorb the lessons of defeat, rather than bask in the glory of successes, which left an indelible impression on the 39-year-old.

Reflecting upon the semi-final victory over Preston North End, Speed told The Star: "We've taken things on board when we've had setbacks, and that's a good quality to have.

"Burnley was a good example.

"We're not used to going a goal down and there, when we did, we didn't respond quite as we would have liked.

"Don't get me wrong, I thought we were unfortunate not to get back into it, but there were things that we could have done better.

"Then, in the first leg against Preston when we found ourselves a goal down, we didn't panic and we got our reward."

Speed cited United's high-octane work at Shirecliffe, where they held the first of two media days earlier this afternoon, as one of the driving forces behind their march to Wembley.

Citing Brian Howard, who scored the equaliser during that first leg at Deepdale, he revealed: "I don't want to single anyone out because everyone has a role to play but what happened to Brian shows the benefits of approaching things as we do.

"He got suspended for a couple of games during the run-in and nobody likes to find themselves sat in the stands.

"But, when he did get back in, I thought his energy was unbelievable. That's because he didn't let his head drop or get down.

"What he did do was train at his absolute maximum."

Speed was a member of the party which toured the national stadium before boarding a flight to Spain.

"I've been fortunate enough to play there a few times," he said.

"I've won a couple and I've lost a couple so I've seen both sides of the coin. On the day, hopefully that knowledge will count for something.

"Probably my favourite memory of there was winning the Charity Shield (with Leeds in 1992).

"I know it isn't the biggest trophy in the world but we beat Liverpool 4-3 and Eric Cantona got a hat-trick."

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