Sheffield United are rediscovering the ruthless streak which once made them a force to be reckoned with in League One, Jamie Murphy has claimed.
The former Scotland under-21 international delivered his verdict after Nigel Clough’s side became the first team to beat Cambridge United on home soil during their FA Cup second round tie at the Abbey Stadium last weekend.
A disappointing sequence of results at the start of the campaign, which saw United accumulate only five points from their opening 10 fixtures, has left last season’s play-off semi-finalists battling for survival towards the bottom of English football’s third tier.
But Murphy, whose second-half goal helped set-up a potentially lucrative tie with Aston Villa early next year, said: “Every successful team, no matter what level they are at, has a nasty edge to them. It’s something they all have in common.
“That’s what we seem to be getting back now and it’s good to see. That’s the mood we are taking onto the pitch, that we aren’t going to let people get one over on us, at the moment.
“We’ve got to make sure that carries on.
“The gaffer is very big on having that type of feeling. He’s stressed the importance of it.”
United, who reached 2012’s divisional showpiece at Wembley, will enter Saturday’s visit of promotion chasing Swindon Town placed 20th in the table despite stretching their unbeaten run to four games following encouraging results against the likes of Bristol City, Walsall and leaders Leyton Orient.
Clough, making no secret of the fact that substance is more important than style given United’s present predicament, said: “It’s important that we have that mind set whereby we don’t give anything away. That, first and foremost, we are hard to beat.
“I think we’re beginning to get that now which is encouraging. But there are still improvements to be made.”
“We’re still not exactly what we want to be,” Clough added. “And that’s completely understandable because, in football, things always take time.
“But the lads are taking things on board and have shown the right attitude. One of the things which impressed me the most (at Cambridge) was the discipline of the performance.
“By that I mean sticking to the task and going about their jobs in the right manner. In the end it was comfortable but that was because we had worked so hard.”
United’s reward was being paired with Aston Villa in the third round draw.
Paul Lambert, the Premier league club’s manager, could name former United defender Matthew Lowton in his starting eleven.
“We deserved our spot and now we can look forward to a fascinating tie at Villa Park,” Clough said. “It’s one to look forward too.”