Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough has urged his players not to become the latest victims of an FA Cup upset when they host Crewe Alexandra in a first round replay at Bramall Lane tonight, writes James Shield.
Coventry City, Fleetwood Town and Exeter are among those to suffer ignominious exits from the competition after being beaten by opponents below them on the footballing pyramid.
And Clough, whose side reached the semi-finals of the tournament last term, said: “There have already been enough shocks. We don’t want to find ourselves on the wrong end of another one.
“This is a free game for Crewe. That’s exactly how they might view it.
“So, in a sense, the hardest part might be yet to come for us. We’re about the find out whether we’ve missed an opportunity.”
Clough was referring to the sight of United being held to a goalless draw at Gresty Road earlier this month despite dominating long periods of the contest.
Having spoken of his respect for Crewe and their manager Steve Davis ahead of that match, Clough added: “They’re a good team and, although they’ve got a system they tend to stick to, they can sometimes be a difficult team to work out and play.
“But we like to think the same can be said about us as well. We’ve got a few options ourselves and, as the lads have shown on a consistent basis, lots of character too.”
“We want to go through,” Clough continued. “Make absolutely no mistake about that so, if it has to go to penalties then so be it. That’s what it will be.
“We’ve had some good games against Crewe recently and not always got the breaks that I think we’ve probably deserved. We’ve looked solid and tried to score goals.
“At the moment we are having to work exceptionally hard for everything we get but there’s nothing wrong with that at all.”