THE gloves are off. Having spent weeks skirting delicately around the subject, Micky Adams, the Sheffield United manager, has now spoken openly about the problems he inherited after taking charge at Bramall Lane.
“Some of these players have got to take responsibility,” Adams said following his team’s abject surrender at Scunthorpe on Tuesday evening. “Because they have been here since day one of the season.”
Adams cut a frustrated figure when he entered Glanford Park’s press room. Angered and exasperated by the manner of United’s defeat - they had led 2-0 after seven minutes before conceding three wholly preventable goals - his words raised eyebrows among those present.
By questioning their heart, naming and shaming those he held responsible for abetting Scunthorpe’s comeback, the 49-year-old risked driving a wedge between himself and the rest of the dressing room.
Given United’s predicament, though, he calculates it is a risk worth taking. Those members of the squad who owe their presence to his patronage are unlikely to question his authority. The majority of those who might take exception are likely to depart should United find themselves in League One next season.
But Adams, who rescued both Fulham and Coventry from relegation earlier in his career, will hope it provokes a response.
“The gaffer was right to say what he did,” Matthew Lowton, the United full-back, said last night. “We’re all still right behind him and we want to give him his first win and get one for the fans.”
On the pitch, United looked devoid of leadership when Joe Garner’s penalty proved the catalyst for Scunthorpe’s comeback. John Terry might not be everyone’s cup of tea but his passionate call to arms inspired a faltering Chelsea against Copenhagen in midweek.
Chris Morgan, who is cut from the same coarse cloth as his Stamford Bridge counterpart, has been sorely missed since injury ruled him-out for the rest of the season. Likewise Nick Montgomery and Darius Henderson who, together with their captain, comprise the spine of Adams’ team.
The time has come for United to ‘man up’ and deliver when they attempt to cut the five-point gap between themselves and safety against Derby County tomorrow.
“Everyone here is still confident we can do it,” Lowton said. “There are still a lot of points left to play for and we’ve got to try and take as many as we can.”