Jamie Murphy has warned Oldham Athletic and Coventry City that Sheffield United are intent on ending the season with a flourish.
Nigel Clough’s side, who play their penultimate match of the campaign at Boundary Park tomorrow night, make the journey to Lancashire eighth in the League One table following Friday’s victory over Port Vale.
Although United’s hopes of qualifying for the play-offs evaporated earlier this month, Murphy told The Star that a combination of personal pride and respect for Clough’s achievements since taking charge six months ago means they are determined to beat Lee Johnson’s side.
“The manager has been brilliant for us and we don’t want to let him down,” Murphy, a former Scotland under-21 international, said. “Or, for that matter, his staff because they’ve been great too.
“It might be impossible for us to get in the top six now but the very fact that we had a chance of doing that, when you consider where we were not so long back, shows the impact they’ve made. So we want to repay them for all their hard work.
“But, when you are a professional, it doesn’t matter whether you are chasing something or not. You want to win every single time you set foot on the pitch.
“So we want to do it for them and ourselves. And also the supporters because they’ve stood by us through thick and thin lately.
“If anyone thinks we don’t have an incentive to do well then they’re wrong.”
Murphy has benefited more than most from Clough’s no nonsense style. Having failed to make an impression during his first nine months in South Yorkshire, the winger, previously of Motherwell, has emerged as a driving force behind United’s surge up the rankings and march into the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
Murphy has featured in all but seven of Clough’s 39 fixtures at the helm despite after previously admitting that at one stage he feared for his future under the new regime.
“Even though we were beaten (by Hull City) at Wembley, what happened down there just goes to show the potential of this club,” Murphy said. “We were disappointed but, in a sense, that will just drive us on even more because we want more days like that.
“To have over 30,000 people coming to watch you and to push a Premier League club as hard as we did has given us confidence that we can have a really good year next time around.”
United will play their 57th match of the season when Coventry visit Bramall Lane this weekend.
Athletic, who expect former United centre-forward Danny Philliskirk to spearhead their attack, held them to a 1-1 draw in December while City triumphed 3-2 at Sixfields Stadium 11 weeks earlier.
“It’s important that we try and do well in our remaining games because that will set the tone for next season,” Murphy said. “More often that not, teams which finish one season with momentum keep it going when they come back after the summer break.”
“If you do well then it means everyone goes away in a positive frame of mind and can’t wait to get back to work again. Whatever happens I know that’s going to be the case here though because one of the biggest things the manager has done is brought us closer together as a group.
“It’s like playing with a group of mates which means that, when there are tough moments, you dig in even harder to help your team mates out.”