Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has opened a new front in the psychological war surrounding tonight’s decisive leg of his team’s play-off semi-final against Swindon Town, writes James Shield.
Clough, whose side must overturn a 2-1 deficit to reach May 24th’s League One showpiece following last week’s controversial defeat at Bramall Lane, told Mark Cooper’s side they have ‘everything to lose and nothing to gain’ during the return in Wiltshire.
“All the pressure is on them,” Clough said. “They are very strong favourites to get to Wembley and that, the balance of the tie, puts a little bit of doubt in their minds.
“We only need one. Even if we do concede, it’s a Spurs situation (in the Capital One Cup) all over again. Two nil down on aggregate yet still the lads came back.
“One goal, for us, at any time, will completely change the game.
“They’ll be more nervous than us.They’re a good team but I can’t remember Mark having much to do. Strange.”
Clough was apoplectic with rage after accusing referee Darren Bond of getting “four key decisions wrong” before Nathan Byrne’s injury time winner four days ago.
“We told the players in the dressing room, try and retain this feeling,” he added. “Bottle it and keep it for three days or so. That sense of injustice.
“We’re honest enough, as a staff, to hold our hands up. To say we could have done this or that but they were better than us on the day. But the lads didn’t deserve that.”