Within minutes of being unveiled as Sheffield United’s new manager last week, Nigel Clough insisted every member of the squad he had just inherited would be handed a clean slate, writes James Shield.
But eight days later, the former Nottingham Forest and Liverpool centre-forward used his first pre-match media briefing to identify the essential qualities they must demonstrate to secure long-term futures at Bramall Lane.
“Attitude is the most important thing in any footballer,” Clough, previewing this weekend’s visit to Shrewsbury Town, said. “It goes without saying that ability is a pretty big thing as well although, as far as I’m concerned, the most successful teams in this division also tend to work the hardest.
“I’ve always liked hard-working sides. Ones that can play good football but show plenty of character too.
“Attitude should, as far as I’m concerned, be an absolute fundamental for any professional. Your chances of achieving anything without it, despite what some folk might think, are always going to be small.”
Despite making his first signing since taking charge of United when Aidy White arrived on loan from Leeds 48 hours ago, Clough, reporting no fresh injury concerns ahead of Saturday’s League One contest at Greenhous Meadow, said concrete decisions concerning the playing staff will be delayed until Christmas.
“We’re trying to get everyone, including first year professionals, involved in training so we can see exactly what we’ve got.
“We’ve certainly got enough in terms of numbers but we’ll have a better idea probably in around eight weeks. Nearer January certainly.”
Clough, though, reassured those players on the periphery of his plans that requesting to leave on loan will not count against them when final calculations about personnel are made.
“Too many players, especially youngsters, aren’t playing football now,” he said. “If they want to get fixed up then, to be honest, I think that’s a great attitude to have.”