Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, believes maintaining a dialogue with match officials will have a positive effect upon his team’s results.
And Adkins, whose side visit Doncaster Rovers this weekend, revealed feedback he has received from members of the profession is likely to feature prominently in his final address to the players ahead of Saturday’s derby at the Keepmoat Stadium.
“We need to clarify things for ourselves,” he told The Star. “We want good disciplinary records.
“I want us to be a tough team. There have been occasions when we’ve seen players getting booked when we think it’s a great tackle and so it’s important you know why a card has been shown. Through that knowledge, we can help our players. We can educate them about what they can and can’t do.”
Adkins’ desire to avoid unnecessary cautions and sendings-off is especially important given his determination to work with a “smaller group” of players after describing United’s squad as “bloated” soon after being appointed in June.
The importance of avoiding yellow and red cards is underlined by the fact that both of the division’s leading two clubs - Walsall and Burton Albion - also feature in the top seven of the discipline table. United, meanwhile, are 10th.
Although he has expressed dissatisfaction with some of the decision-making in their recent outings, Adkins insisted: “I will never, ever, question the integrity of the referee. I’ve done talks for referees’ societies in the past.
“It’s about trying to build an understanding. It’s so hard being an official and there are several grey areas including things like who is the last man. It’s good to give feedback to referees and also to ask the questions.”
Mike Dean, a member of the Select Group of Referees, is scheduled to take charge of the meeting between United and Doncaster Rovers. The 47-year-old will be overseeing a League One fixture for the first time since April 2014 when Rotherham were beaten 1-0 at Bramall Lane.
Dean was also officiated when United drew 2-2 with Tottenham Hotspur in the second-leg of last season’s Capital One Cup semi-finals. Ryan Flynn and Chris Basham were among six players to receive a yellow card during that fixture. Dean averages 4.5 cautions per game during those two fixtures compared to 3.28 in all competitions so far this term.
Che Adams, who was praised by Adkins for his performance as a second-half substitute against Wigan Athletic four days ago, has first hand experience of how being sent-off can have a detrimental effect on a player’s career. The England youth international was dismissed when United, who enter their match against Rovers in 11th place, overcame Oldham Athletic in the FA Cup second round last year.
“I always read the reports on the referees and I do my report as well,” Adkins continued. “We use what is spoken about in referee’s meetings and we’ve collected a few examples to better inform the players.”