SHEFFIELD UNITED: Lessons of a pain game

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MICHAEL Doyle, the Sheffield United captain, has admitted his team mates must learn the painful lessons of their failure to secure promotion last season.

Danny Wilson’s side suffered a heartbreaking defeat in May’s League One play-off final at Wembley when they were beaten 8-7 on penalties by Huddersfield Town.

Despite amassing 90 points and scoring more goals than any other club in the competition, United were nevertheless unable to claim the top-two berth which would have guaranteed Championship status this term.

Citing a failure to translate performances into positive results against the division’s leading contenders, Doyle told The Star: “We did well but we didn’t get to where we wanted to be and so it’s important we don’t ignore where we went wrong. Looking back, we played really well against the others who were right up there with us but, sometimes, when we went a goal behind we started to chase the game and go gung-ho rather than just feel our way back in.

“I thought we rectified that towards the end (of the season) but at the start it was definitely an issue.

“That’s something we can’t afford to do again.”

Although Doyle is adamant United will again emerge as a force to be reckoned with when the new campaign begins with a Capital One Cup tie against Burton Albion next month - “That’s our aim” - he provided a fascinating insight into the psychological forces at play in the dressing room when, at one stage, Wilson’s charges seemed destined to clinch the runners-up spot.

“There were moments - and this definitely didn’t come from the gaffer or his staff - where we probably talked among ourselves and thought ‘if we get this number of points or that number of points then we’ll be up.’

“Every time we got there we weren’t up and in the end we surpassed what would usually be enough to get there (the Championship) and still didn’t get promoted.

“That’s another thing we won’t be doing again.”

United begin their schedule of summer friendlies at Ilkeston on Wednesday before travelling to Malta on Friday.