Michael Doyle has vowed Sheffield United will take the fight to Fulham during tomorrow’s FA Cup fourth round tie rather than sit back and frustrate their opponents.
Although Doyle acknowledged the visitors’ top-flight status demands respect, he warned Nigel Clough’s side can not afford to sit back and look to catch them on the break.
Insisting United’s performance at Aston Villa in the previous round should form the tactical template for the meeting with Rene Meulensteen’s team, Doyle said: “We fully deserved to win at Villa. Before we scored, we had to be patient and we did that for the opening 15 minutes.
“That was always going to be very important. They were always going to have a lot of the ball as the home team so we had to keep our shape.
“Once we had got through that, I felt we grew into the game. We got the goal and kicked on.
“The performance and how we played was down to the manager on the Friday before the game.
“He told us we weren’t going to Villa to defend. He wanted us to go there and have a go.
“That was great to hear. Sometimes in these games, you go away from home and end up quite deep. Against Villa, it was the opposite.
“I have had some good cup runs and some good results. And in those games, I have known within the first 15 minutes how it was going to go. I have thought, ‘We have got these today.’”
Doyle, the United captain, was in commanding form against Villa where goals from Jamie Murphy and Ryan Flynn propelled the League One club to a memorable 2-1 success.
Paul Lambert, the Villa manager, was castigated for appearing to label the tournament a distraction. But Clough, who reached the final with Nottingham Forest in 1991, later defender his colleague, saying: “Paul named a very strong team, the best available. It was not weakened at all.”
Doyle, speaking at the Redtooth Academy on Wednesday afternoon, revealed he is a huge fan of knockout competition.
“My first memory is the 1988 final. I was a Liverpool fan and we lost against Wimbledon,” the United captain said. “John Aldridge missed a penalty and Liverpool could have won the double that year.
“That was disappointing. The year after, Liverpool beat Everton. After all that had gone on with Hillsborough, that was very emotional. The Cup is massive and has great tradition.
“It doesn’t matter who you play - Premier League or non League - but it draws people out. We played Salisbury a couple of years ago and they brought a 2,000 fans with them. That was great.
“It was the same with ourselves at Villa, where we took 6,000 fans. They made all the difference for us on the day. To me, the Cup is as great as ever. And long may that continue.”
“The further the lower division clubs can go, the better it is for the competition as it creates real interest,” Doyle continued. “There are a lot still in it and there could be shocks.
“We pulled one off in the last round and there will be a bit more attention on us. I am not saying Villa didn’t treat us with respect but I would imagine Fulham will be ready for us going into the game on Sunday.”