Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins has revealed he expects all of his players to adhere to the highest possible standards or risk being shown the door at Bramall Lane.
Adkins, whose side visit Rochdale this weekend, was responding to questions about the code-of conduct his coaching staff have imposed following their arrival in South Yorkshire on the eve of the present campaign.
“It’s what you do when no one is watching that counts,” Adkins told The Star. “That’s what separates the best from the rest. The people who give themselves the best chance of achieving something from those who don’t.
“You’ve got to be able to lead yourself. Be your own boss and take the right decisions. Even about things like whether you are eating properly or getting enough rest. You always want players who can do that for themselves.”
Adkins’ warning is especially pertinent given recent events at United where Jose Baxter, the former Everton and Oldham Athletic midfielder, was suspended by club officials last week. Although Baxter’s employers declined to elaborate on the reasons why - they are bound by confidentiality protocols - it is understood he tested positive for a prohibited recreational substance.
Baxter, aged 24, was banned for five months, with three of those suspended, when traces of MDMA were discovered in his system before last season’s League One play-off semi-final against Swindon Town. United, who were beaten 7-6 on aggregate, informed the Professional Footballers’ Association of their intention to suspend Baxter before making an official announcement six days ago.
A spokesperson acknowledged “procedures are being followed” and confirmed “no further comment will be made until the completion of these actions.”
Adkins, speaking before the Baxter situation unfolded, added: “You can’t have a coach standing over you all the time. And you shouldn’t have to either.
“Be it a lovely bright sunny day or a completely terrible one, if you have a bad training session are you going to go home and be miserable? Or are you going to be positive and respond in the right manner?
“When we are looking for players we know what we want. The ones who get to the top don’t need someone standing over them all the time.”
United are eighth in the table, four points behind sixth-placed Coventry City, ahead of the match at Spotland.