Neill Collins has admitted Sheffield United owe their fans a performance during tonight’s FA Cup replay at Fulham, writes James Shield.
But the former Sunderland and Wolves centre-half, who helped Nigel Clough’s side beat Aston Villa in the previous round, insisted the 2,000 supporters expected to descend upon Craven Cottage also have a crucial role to play as United attempt to reach the last 16 of the competition for the first time since 2009.
Collins, describing Saturday’s League One defeat by Crewe Alexandra as “massively disappointing,” told The Star: “They deserve to see us produce a display and we’ve also got our own personal pride. We want to do it for them and also for ourselves.
“The backing we’ve had has been brilliant and, believe me, it really does help.
“There was a moment during the Villa game when I thought their fans were really starting to crank up the noise. And then I realised it was our supporters who were doing it.
“That really drives you on. You want to score in front of them, you want to be able to celebrate in front of them and, when the going gets tough, you just seem to dig-in even more.
“There’s nothing more inspiring that a big away support.”
Six days after holding Rene Meulensteen’s team to a 1-1 draw at Bramall Lane - despite playing for much of the contest with 10 men - United slipped to 23rd in the table following their 3-0 defeat at Gresty Road.
Clough vowed to hold an “honest and frank” inquest into the reasons behind that result and Collins, acknowledging “we must take something into” this weekend’s crucial encounter with fellow strugglers Shrewsbury Town, said: “The amount of effort which goes into the games shouldn’t be underestimated and I think this one will be the toughest of the lot because they’ll be more aware of us now.
“We are the underdog and that doesn’t happen to Sheffield United very often. The shackles can come off a bit.”
“In the league, we’ve got to go back to the mindset of first and foremost being hard to beat,” Collins said. “Thinking that, come what may, the opposition aren’t going to score and then backing our lads up front with their ability on the ball.
“In fairness to the gaffer, he’s always telling us that it’s impossible to guarantee an outcome but you can control a performance. And, if you produce those, then results tend to follow.
“No matter what, we’ve got to get back to taking points even if we don’t play well. That’s what we were doing before.
“We don’t want to be one of those teams saying ‘we deserved this and we deserved that’ while the others are taking something.
“We’ve got a big week coming-up so let’s regroup and go again. Show that edge, doggedness and bite.”