Sheffield United manager David Weir is demanding even more from his players despite their unbeaten start to pre-season, writes James Shield.
The former Everton and Glasgow Rangers defender, who arrived at Bramall Lane last month, issued the demand ahead of this weekend’s friendly with Mansfield Town.
United head to Field Mill hoping to complete a hat-trick of victories after marking their return to England with a convincing win over Bury.
But Weir, whose team dispatched Raith Rovers and Greenock Morton during a recent training camp in Scotland, said: “We are satisfied with what we’ve seen but there are always things that you can do better.
“We’ve been changing things around, in terms of personnel, quite a lot because we are working on fitness matters as well as football ones.
“But in the next match we’ll probably scale that back a bit. Start to give people 70 or 80 minutes rather than 45 or an hour.”
United, who also drew with Cowdenbeath after opting to begin their preparations for the new League One season north of the border, used the outing at Gigg Lane to further familiarise themselves with the tactics Weir hopes to employ.
Indeed, having challenged his full-backs to provide more of an attacking threat, the 43-year-old could be forgiven for describing the final goal of what eventually proved a convincing 3-1 triumph as a personal highlight.
Having seen Jasper Johns and Jamie Murphy cancel out Shaun Harrad’s opener for Bury, Weir will have taken great delight from watching Marcus Williams charge forward before delivering the cross which Stephen McGinn emphatically converted.
“We want to get the boys at the back going forward a little bit more,” continued Weir. “So that was good to see.
“It was a nice pass and a nice finish. But all of the goals were impressive in their own way so it was a very worthwhile exercise.
“We got what we wanted from it and we’ll be looking to build from here.”
“It’s not about making drastic changes or alterations,” Weir added. “Everyone has their own ideas and so of course there are always going to be the odd little thing, certain aspects, that people want to tweak a little.
“But we’ve got good players here. We know that and they’re responding to the things we have been asking them to do.
“It’s all part of a process and, hopefully this stays the same, it’s moving in the right direction at the moment.
“Bit by bit we’re trying to piece things together.
“That’s why these games are absolutely invaluable. Just as going to Scotland was in fact.
“We’re all learning about each other.”
United, who are also scheduled to face York City before entertaining Notts County on August 2, included youngsters Jahmal Smith, Callum McFadzean, Joe Ironside, Terry Kennedy and Elliot Whitehouse in the starting eleven which took to the field against Kevin Blackwell’s charges.
“Being unbeaten is not the be all and end all but winning games is nice,” Weir said. “The main aim is to get equal minutes into the players and thankfully, touch wood, we are avoiding injuries.
“Until this game it has been purely a fitness exercise and to an extent that remains the priority but also the football has been good.
“In the second-half we were more experienced and that told in the end but the youngsters also acquitted themselves brilliantly.”