PRESS conferences are fast becoming a test of Micky Adams’ prose as well as patience.
Encouraged by his team’s performances yet frustrated by their inability to win a game, the Sheffield United manager has spent the past seven weeks searching for new ways to recount the same old story.
So there was not an Ancelotti eyebrow in sight yesterday when he gave Shirecliffe a swerve and delegated pre-match duties to assistant Alan Cork instead.
Once again, though, a familiar theme quickly emerged when Adams’ deputy was asked to explain the reasons behind the club’s wait for a first win under the 49-year-old’s stewardship.
“The lads felt like they’d been beaten in the dressing room afterwards,” Cork, describing the scene after Saturday’s draw with Millwall, said. “So we told them to view it as a positive result.
“We’re one point closer to safety and if we keep chipping away at the gap then that can only be a good thing. If we keep on going about our business with the same attitude and commitment then I’m sure, touch wood, that we’ll be okay.
“All of the statistics, the ProZone and the other figures, told us that there wasn’t a lot wrong with the overall display. The boys have responded well to what we are doing in training and that’s a good thing to see.
“Obviously it goes without saying that there are things we can do better. We got our noses in front and then didn’t defend properly at the set-piece. I think, because of the situation we’re in at the moment, everyone just got a little bit nervous.
“We could also get a few more shots off but, by and large, there isn’t a lot wrong. We’ve just got to keep hammering away.”
United return to action against Reading this evening still languishing in the Championship’s relegation zone but now within three points of 21st placed Crystal Palace.
Adams, who took charge at Bramall Lane in December, has drawn three and lost five of his eight games at the helm.
But, in fairness to the new regime, results do fail to accurately reflect performances.
True, improving certain areas of United’s play, particularly when it comes to defending free-kicks, would ensure dubious refereeing decisions become footnotes rather than defining moments of their contests.
However, as striker Daniel Bogdanovic lamented after scoring the penalty which came within a last-minute equaliser of accounting for Kenny Jackett’s side, the margin between success and failure in English football’s most unpredictable division has always been uncomfortably slim.
“All new jobs are tough,” said Cork.
“They’re all difficult because there’s always things that you want to change around.
“We’ve increased the tempo of the work we do in the week now because, when we came in, we felt it was a little bit sloppy.
“That’s not a criticism of the people who were here before us.
“But we’ve got a certain way of doing things and that’s brought us success in the past so there’s no reason for us to change now.”
Cork added: “Another good thing is that the crowd have really kept behind us.
“They’re such a good set of fans because what they want to see is people giving everything for the shirt and they respond to that.”