THEY might not have quite the same cachet as Barcelona but, according to Richard Cresswell, Sheffield United are also more than just a club.
The vastly experienced centre-forward marked his return to action following a lengthy absence by scoring one of five goals which prolonged the hosts’ unbeaten run at home in league competition to eight games.
And afterwards Cresswell, who only a week ago had seemed destined for the exit door, revealed he had put football before finance in order to stay at Bramall Lane.
“I took a pay cut so I could be a part of things here which, I suppose, isn’t something many footballers do,” he said. “But there’s just something about this place that grabs me.
“I had offers from this division and also one from the Championship but, even though that would have involved stepping up a level, I didn’t want to go.
“The manager is a really big influence. I know it’s going to be difficult to play as many games as I did last season but, really, all I want to do is be involved.
“It’s been a really frustrating month but I’ve got to thank the gaffer and also the owner, Mr (Kevin) McCabe, for sorting everything out.”
Danny Wilson, the United manager, clearly values the depth of Cresswell’s commitment both on and off the pitch, having assumed a central role in the negotiations which ensured his continued presence.
With new signing Dave Kitson watching from the stands, it was Ryan Flynn who impressed the most.
Had Stephen Quinn not joined Hull City 24 hours earlier, the former Falkirk winger would most likely have been consigned to the bench.
However, Flynn grasped his opportunity in emphatic fashion with two well-taken first-half efforts before creating Cresswell’s opening after the interval.
John Cofie added to his collection of outrageous strikes with yet another unforgettable goal and Nick Blackman made sure of the points by winning and converting a late penalty.
But this was most definitely Flynn’s day.
“Ryan is an absolutely smashing player,” Cresswell, who will combine playing duties with assisting United’s youngsters as a coach, said. “He’s got the ability and technique to go a long way, he really has.
“The thing that impresses me the most about Ryan, though, is that he’s so eager to learn, and that’s a great attitude to have.
“That and the fact he can put in a really great cross, which obviously I like.”
“Quinny going was a shame but, unfortunately, that’s football,” Cresswell added.
“Ryan has waited for his chance and when he was doing that I told him to keep his head up, which he did.
“I thought his performance was excellent.”
Kitson, the former Portsmouth and Reading marksman, had completed his transfer to United less than an hour before Friday’s deadline and his presence had the desired effect as Wilson’s men unleashed their full attacking repertoire on the visitors from Dorset.
But an absorbing contest against opponents Wilson later insisted are “outside bets for promotion” showcased the chinks in United’s armoury too as Tommy Elphick and Lee Barnard seized upon defensive lapses to score.
Cresswell, who helped United reach last season’s play-off final, said: “That was probably the one thing that let us down last time. We conceded too many.
“So that’s what we are going to be working on in training this week. Just tidying up at bit when we’re trying to keep others out.”
Despite suffering a defeat which Wilson’s counterpart, Paul Groves, said “raised issues we must address”, Bournemouth made the brighter start, with Elphick converting from Eunan O’Kane’s centre.
Nevertheless, Elphick’s goal provoked a furious response from United, with Flynn netting twice, his second a perfectly-angled finish, and Cofie
beating Shwan Jalal with a looping shot from long- ange.
United, who had seen the on-loan youngster hit the crossbar with another fine attempt moments before the interval, should have coasted towards their second success of the new campaign.
However when Barnard reduced the deficit and Marc Pugh’s deflected drive deceived Mark Howard either side of substitute Cresswell’s header, an anxious finale ensued, with Blackman sealing victory moments before the whistle after teasing a clumsy challenge from Charlie Daniels.
Meanwhile, Wilson confirmed he came close to making a second signing be
fore Friday’s transfer deadline.
Wilson, speaking after the win which lifted the hosts to fifth in the League One table, he acknowledged: “We were disappointed that one or two things did not come to fruition.”
Sources at Blackpool have told The Star that former Liverpool attacker Nathan Eccleston was among those options being considered by United before the 21-year-old opted for Bloomfield Road instead.
“We’ll wait and see whether we do anything when they emergency loan window opens,” Wilson added.