WE always knew Sheffield United could appeal to the purists.
A courageous display at Glanford Park, which saw them snatch a draw despite having only nine men on the pitch, has now earned them the respect of footballing prize-fighters too.
Danny Wilson, reflecting on Saturday’s League One fixture with Scunthorpe, rightly insisted that 90 minutes of incident-packed action had banished any question marks about his team’s resolve in the wake of last season’s play-off final defeat.
United’s challenge now, as they prepare for this weekend’s visit of Bury, is to ensure their resolute performance inspires a series of similarly red-blooded efforts throughout the rest of the campaign.
Without, of course, the flurry of red cards.
“The lads showed the type of commitment they’ve got,” Wilson said. “They showed how hard they are prepared to work for one another.
“You don’t do what they did there unless everyone pulls their weight and is prepared to give everything for the person next to them.
“We try to play to our strengths but you’ve also got the be ready to roll up your
sleeves and dig in. The boys showed they’ve got that side to their character too.”
With captain Michael Doyle and midfielder Ryan Flynn both in danger of missing United’s next three games, the point Wilson’s men gained in Lincolnshire could carry a heavy price.
Not least if the manager is forced back into the loan market to bolster his squad for the forthcoming matches against Doncaster Rovers, Yeovil Town and Peter Shirtliff’s side.
Nevertheless, beneath the bravura, Wilson will have been delighted to see several aspects of play United had fine-tuned during training contribute to the result at Scunthorpe.
Having seen centre-half Neill Collins hit the woodwork before cancelling out Leon Clarke’s opener with a perfectly-executed header, the United manager said: “We’d been worked on a few different things during the week that we’d identified.
“One of those was trying to get Collo into those types of areas so it was nice to see that pay off because we want to be able to score more goals from all over the pitch.
“The more people who can contribute to that the better as far as I’m concerned.”
“Defensively, the lads were also really organised,” added Wilson.
“Everyone stayed switched on. I was pleased they got their rewards because I was so proud of the effort they’d put in. I reckon the fans were too.”
United returned to fifth in the table following Stevenage’s win over Coventry City on Sunday. Scunthorpe remain bottom; one place below Bury who have yet to win a match since Richie Barker was poached by Crawley Town.
Shirtliff, who has been in caretaker charge since August, acknowledged: “It’s always a difficult scenario. We’ve had a tough start and taken two points from five games which isn’t good enough.
“If I’d got four wins out of those five games then everyone would be saying ‘give him the job’.”
Shirtliff added: “I haven’t had a discussion (about the post) but I imagine they’ll be starting the interview process this week.”