EXETER City’s form is a sharp as their manager’s dress sense but Paul Tisdale still insists his side have yet to fulfil their potential.
After a disappointing start to the season, the Devonians travel north having achieved some notable firsts – including back to back league wins and success on the road – at Walsall in midweek.
But Tisdale, speaking after Tuesday’s triumph in the Midlands, moved quickly to temper expectations, saying: “I’m pleased with those two wins but I’m not going to get ahead of myself.
“We need some more performances like that and we rode our luck a little at times but I’m so pleased. It’s been a good week so far.”
With Daniel Nardiello scoring a brace in each of his last two outings, the toughest decision Tisdale is likely to face at the team hotel this evening is whether to combine a flat cap with his trademark cravat on the touchline tomorrow.
Nardiello, previously of Barnsley, Swansea and Blackpool, was also on target during last weekend’s 3-1 victory over Rochdale.
But having scored just once in Exeter’s opening 13 games, the 29-year-old has now netted six in five to lift the visitors to 20th in the League One table. In the form guide, however, they are 11th. One place above United.
Nardiello, who moved to St James Park 16 months ago, said: “This is the best football I’ve played since coming here. I think I can get better, there’s no reason why not.
“The mental side of it is a big thing. I got married in the summer, we have got a place in the city centre and I’m loving life in Exeter.
“If you are happy off the pitch it will show on it.”
“We know what Dan can do and when he’s on his game he can score goals,” Tisdale said. “He is hard to mark and hard to tackle.
“He’s a good attacking player and if you give him the ball in the right place then you will benefit.”
Tisdale, together with Exeter coach Marcus Stewart, has subtly tweaked Nardiello’s role in the team. Rather than being deployed in a central role, the 29-year-old now combines patrolling the left flank with defensive duties at the other end of the field.
Tisdale, described by Danny Wilson at yesterday’s pre-match media briefing as “a really bright young manager,” is adamant Exeter can achieve a positive result against their fourth-placed opponents.
“It will be a difficult game if you look at the stats,” he said. “Sheffield United are having a good season and so it will be tough.
“Without a doubt, if you look at the league positions, it is going to be difficult and you would expect them to be favourites.
“We have absolutely nothing to lose though. We know we are good enough to get a result against anybody in this division and that includes Sheffield United.”
Meanwhile, Jake Taylor should face United after extending his loan deal from Reading. The teenage forward has impressed since making his debut against Sheffield Wednesday last month.
However, Guillem Bauza is unlikely to feature after straining his hamstring against Walsall.
“Jake is very versatile,” Tisdale said. “He actually came to us as an attacking midfielder so I suppose we have been playing him slightly out of position but he has shown he can adapt very well indeed.”