Statistically, this is already the best season in Sheffield United’s history.
Twenty-nine wins and eighty-nine goals have catapulted Chris Wilder’s side to the League One title but, underlining the drive which makes this squad such a formidable proposition, John Fleck still wants more.
“We’re delighted with what we’ve done but it’s not over yet,” he admits. “There’s still work to be done.
“After being promoted, we knew we had to go on and finish first. Even then, though, we also decided to try and get 100 points.”
United will reach that landmark if they beat Chesterfield in Sunday’s final match of what has been a memorable campaign. Fleck, the former Coventry City and Rangers midfielder, has been instrumental throughout and, if he reproduces the same form in the Championship, is surely destined to receive a full Scotland call.
Wilder, who tells it how he sees it and has a refreshing aversion to spin, described Fleck (pictured) as United’s “best player” since August at an awards ceremony earlier this week.
The 25-year-old, despite taking great pride in those comments, reveals he is not immune to criticism.
“This is what I had in mind when I came here,” Fleck, remembering the scenes at Northampton Town when United’s promotion was confirmed, admits. “But down there, I was terrible first-half and the manager had a real go at me personally. He was exactly right and I’m delighted for the club and also for him because you can see how much it means.”
Wilder, like captain Billy Sharp, is a lifelong United supporter which, despite their claims to the contrary, Fleck insists has made a real difference.
“I’ve not been here that long so I don’t know what it was like for the fans last season But I can imagine how frustrating it was for them. They can see the boys care, the manager cares and the captain cares. They both want to do it in the right manner and the right style. They’ve imposed it from the top down and we’ve taken it on.
“All he (Wilder) wants from us is to fight for each other and fight for the great fans we’ve got. We’ve done that.”
One paper, United enter this weekend’s contest as overwhelming favourites. Chesterfield, beaten 4-1 at the Proact Stadium earlier this season, have won only once in 10 outings and already relegated. Nevertheless, Wilder’s counterpart Gary Caldwell will be desperate to deliver a positive result after making a slow start to life in north Derbyshire.
“Even though we’ve gone up, our standard of training hasn’t dropped off,” reveals Fleck. “When we went up, we immediately spoke about fighting through all of the remaining games to try and get as many points as we can. We’ve enjoyed ourselves and we all want to show what we can do on the Championship stage. First, we’ve got to push on and get as many points as we can.”