Jack O’Connell has revealed how family squabbles are helping to fuel Sheffield United’s promotion push.
Chris Wilder’s team enter this afternoon’s game against Port Vale unbeaten in their last seven League One outings and knowing a win could lift them into third place.
Although O’Connell last night described United’s squad as “a very tight unit,” the former Brentford centre-half admitted: “In training, the standard is very high. The tempo is high and the gaffer wants us to do that. There’s a few rows because of the way we train, with tempo and aggression. But that’s what the gaffer wants, that approach.”
“There are some big characters here and I think that helps,” O’Connell added. “We all look out for each other, try to push each other on and you need that if you want to get promoted.”
United’s combative attitude has been cited as a major factor behind their resurgence following Wilder’s appointment in May. O’Connell is one of 13 new players signed by the manager since he replaced Nigel Adkins at the helm and attributed his own no-nonsense style to his upbringing in Spain.
“I used to live over there when I was nine,” O’Connell said. “When I came back, I’d missed the boat and was playing catch-up so had to work hard. I was 13 when I came back and then found myself trying to get into the school team and stuff like that. Mum just fancied a change. I went to a Spanish school and that was tough because I didn’t speak Spanish and there was hardly anyone who spoke English there either.”
“We were in Malaga and had season tickets there,” O’Connell added. “I remember Michael Owen scored for Real Madrid and mum started screaming in the Malaga end because we’re from Liverpool and obviously he played there too. Everyone started booing her.”