BREATHING down the leaders’ necks and boasting the competition’s only unbeaten record this term, Sheffield United could be forgiven for thinking they have finally cracked the League One nut.
But Neill Collins, speaking after Monday’s win over Portsmouth catapulted the Lane club into second place, trailing Tranmere Rovers only on goal difference, issued an ominous warning which will strike fear into their rivals.
While the centre-half said United are satisfied with results so far, the best is yet to come: “I don’t think we performed at our best last season until around January,” Collins told The Star.
“It might be around that time again when we really gel but as long as we keep winning, that’s the most important thing.
“It’s much nicer being second rather than seventh or eighth but I don’t really look at the table at this stage.
“It’s starting to take shape a bit but you can tell there are going to be teams challenging at the end who perhaps aren’t up there at the moment.”
United might not always be pretty. But, as their start to the campaign shows, they are pretty damn effective.
The squad Danny Wilson assembled during the close season has not yet mastered the art of overwhelming opponents in the same devastating fashion which saw them muster 90 points and 92 goals last term.
But despite losing quality performers such as Stephen Quinn, Matthew Lowton and Lee Williamson over the summer, United have become e adept at grinding out results.
They have discovered different ways to win: “We’ve had to because of the players we’ve lost,” Collins added. “We’ve had to adapt because personnel makes a difference.
“The run we’re on at the moment breeds confidence. When it’s 1-0 we know that we can see games out whereas teams at the bottom probably get a bit more nervous.
“But it’s easy saying it after the game. Sometimes you can be fortuitous. So, while it’s better to win two or three nil, it’s also important to be able to do what we’re doing now.”
Wilson, who like Collins praised Marcus Williams’ contribution since forcing himself into United’s starting 11, echoed those sentiments.
“We’ve not changed how we want to play or our approach,” the manager said. “But you’ve got to look at the personnel of the team.We have different players now and you’ve got to play to their strengths.
“Sometimes that strength is digging in. If people see them doing that then they’ll always back them.”