Sheffield United’s players must adhere to a strict code of conduct or risk being banished from the first-team squad, manager Nigel Clough has warned.
Emphasising the detrimental effect “completely unnecessary” yellow cards and fouls can have upon results, the former England international’s revelation comes after it emerged Febian Brandy is unlikely to feature against Leyton Orient today despite completing a four match ban.
Clough, who side enter this afternoon’s match 21st in the League One table, told The Star: “It’s simply about being trustworthy and professional. We want players to be aggressive but you’ve got to be disciplined.
“What’s the point in giving away stupid free-kicks for example? All that means is that the ball is going to end up in your penalty box because any idiot can whack it into the area when there is nobody within 10 yards of them.
“You don’t want people to be missing because of a ban at the best of times. Especially not when you are in the position we are in.
“Listen, there are times when you need to get booked. You’ll often hear people saying ‘that was a good booking to get’ because they’ve had to bring someone down.
“So why get booked for something like dissent? Those ones are completely unnecessary and an absolute waste.”
Clough, who arrived at Bramall Lane last month following a near five year spell in charge of Derby County, added: “You’d have to check this but, off the top of my head, I don’t think we had anyone there suspended because they’d accumulated too many cards. Not for the last two seasons anyway.”
Although Harry Maguire is set to return after missing Tuesday’s draw with Walsall under the ‘totting-up’ procedure - “He’s an outstanding centre-half and scores goals too” - Clough intimated Brandy could be set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after serving a four match ban.
The former Walsall midfielder was sent-off for the second time this term during the defeat by Shrewsbury Town earlier this month and Clough, whose late father Brian imposed a similar system at Nottingham Forest, said: “Febian has got to work hard in the under-21’s to show us that he deserves to get back in. He’s been sent-off twice now and I’ve seen him play for about 10 minutes.
“Things like that are the ultimate in letting your team down. He’ll have to work hard and show us that he deserves his place the same as everyone else.
“Will he learn? We’ll have to wait and see.”
“You’d be surprised the things that we were ordered to do at Forest from the touchline,” Clough added. “But we’d have never, ever, been able to get away with things like bookings for dissent.
“We’d be told ‘take care or him’ or ‘make sure you sort him out’ because there was more tackling in the game then. But it was always ‘do it fairly.’
“Being disciplined is just so important. You don’t want people missing games when there really is no reason for them to be out.”