Their recent record in League One competition makes for chilling reading but Brentford have been warned Sheffield United will not be cowed into submission at Bramall Lane tonight, writes James Shield.
Instead Chris Morgan, the South Yorkshire club’s former captain turned coach, told The Star that Nigel Clough’s squad possesses both the talent and determination to shatter the visitors’ 18 match unbeaten run despite finding themselves at the wrong end of the table.
“They’ve got good players,” Morgan acknowledged. “And we know this is going to be an exceptionally tough game.
“But we’ve got good players too. Players who, despite what anyone else may or may not think, are more than capable of hurting anyone as our results in the FA Cup prove.”
United, who have dispatched Aston Villa and Fulham en route to Sunday’s fifth round tie with Nottingham Forest, climbed to within a point of safety when they overcame fellow strugglers Shrewsbury Town last weekend. Brentford, by contrast, travelled north last night in first after taking 48 from a possible 54 since suffering a 2-1 defeat at Stevenage four months ago.
Morgan, who has become an influential member of Clough’s backroom staff following the manager’s appointment in October, said: “What we’ve challenged the players is to make sure that people start talking about us in the league rather than just the cup now. Because that’s our bread and butter.
“We’ve put in some good performances of late, admittedly without getting our reward at times, but some good performances nonetheless.
“The difference is confidence. That’s something we are always trying to drill into the players, to have a confidence not an arrogance. If you show too much of that (arrogance) then you have a habit of getting tripped up but the gaffer likes to keep things simple and wants, within a good framework, the lads to go out there and express themselves.”
Simplicity has been a buzzword behind the scenes at United of late with winger Jamie Murphy using yesterday’s media briefing to describe how Clough prefers to give his players clearly defined roles rather than confuse them with complicated instructions and tactics.
Elaborating on the theme, first team coach Andy Garner said: “No one is quicker than the football. I don’t care how fast you are, you are never going to outrun that and it never gets tired either.
“That’s something he (Clough) always likes to stress. If there is a five yard pass then make it and move, don’t take too many touches or over-elaborate all the time.”
United’s gruelling schedule - they play eight games in 27 days following this evening’s encounter - means Clough is expected to utilise all of the options at his disposal in an effort to prevent fatigue, both mental and physical, from adversely effecting results.
Michael Doyle is available for selection against Brentford after serving a three match ban while fellow midfielder Stephen McGinn will be assessed after, according to Garner, “feeling a bit sore” following the win over Town.
Brentford, who recruited Clough’s predecessor David Weir as Mark Warburton’s assistant earlier this term, have allowed Chuba Akprom to return to Arsenal after his loan at Griffin Park expired.
“We’re trying to give the lads all the rest they need,” Morgan said. “We’re trying to take care of them because we’re in a really busy period but they’re good characters.”