Chris Wilder has warned there will be consequences if Sheffield United’s players lose focus after a seven match unbeaten run.
United enter this weekend’s League One fixture against Port Vale eighth in the table and unbeaten in the competition since August.
Despite praising his squad for their efforts of late following a slow start to the new season - “We’ve enjoyed an excellent month and a bit” - Wilder made no apology for demanding even more from his squad.
“I don’t want us to be a’ spike team’ that wins two or three and then loses two or three,” he said.
“Because, that way, you just end up in mid-table with sixty odd points.
“We don’t want to be there. That’s not something we want to be.”
“Listen,” Wilder added. “If you are at club like this then things are going to be expected of you.
“There’s no point in pretending otherwise and why would you want to?
“Take it as a compliment and be pleased you are somewhere people want to achieve.
“We want to drive ourselves on.
“Take nothing for granted but try to make it one match more (unbeaten), then another, then another.
“Okay, it might not happen. But that’s the attitude you’ve got to have.”
Port Vale, now managed by former United midfielder Bruno Ribeiro, have also begun the present campaign in encouraging fashion after appointing the Portuguese in June.
Wilder, who took charge at Bramall Lane a month earlier, will be without Chris Basham for the match as he completes a suspension but Caolan Lavery could return after injury.
Basham, who was sent-off against Scunthorpe nearly three weeks ago, did feature in last week’s Checkatrade Trophy tie against Walsall but saw his absence from the side extended when Saturday’s league meeting with Jon Whitney’s team was postponed.
“It was good to get Chris out there and keep him ticking over,” Wilder said.
“Because he was eligible for that one, it was important for him to be involved and hopefully it should help his sharpness when he’s available again.”