Enda Stevens wants to cement Bramall Lane’s reputation as one of the most feared stadiums in English football by beating Barnsley this afternoon.
The Sheffield United defender was speaking as Chris Wilder’s side prepare for their first derby of the new Championship season after cruising to promotion last term.
United are unbeaten on home soil since January and Stevens said: “It’s going to be a big crowd and the atmosphere will be electric. We’ve got to thrive off that. We want people to fear coming to Bramall Lane and, over the last year or so, they have done. The home form has been terrific and we want to keep that going this season.”
Despite opening the campaign with a 1-0 win over Brentford - a match watched by a near 27,000 strong crowd - United enter today’s match hoping to avoid a third successive defeat after losing at Cardiff City and Middlesbrough. Wilder, who will be without centre-half Richard Stearman (hamstring), admitted his players must “sharpen-up” in both boxes following Tuesday’s set-back in Wales.
Echoing that sentiment, Stevens acknowledged: “It’s been a tough start, we’ve played a lot of the more competitive teams in the first three. Middlesbrough are probably the favourites, Cardiff are flying and Brentford are being backed as well. It’s just about getting to grips with the Championship and knowing what’s required.”
“This group is well capable of it and, to be honest, we’ve also been unlucky,” Stevens added. “We’ve got to keep clean sheets and score goals. Both ends of the pitch to be fair. That’s where we need to improve.
“The Championship is a lot more intense and a lot more physical. It’s like a mini-Premier League. There are no easy games whatsoever. We’ve got to get to grips with it and we will do. We’re four games in now and we’ve got another good test coming up.”
Stevens enjoyed a spell on loan at Doncaster Rovers before returning to South Yorkshire, on a free transfer from Portsmouth, earlier this summer.
“I played in the Bramall Lane game for Rovers a few years back - 3-2 I think it was - and against Leeds and Barnsley,” he said. “I’ve had a good taste for the Yorkshire derbies. I remember most of my games, I’m not too bad like that. You remember playing at Bramall Lane, don’t you? You’re not going to forget that.”