TEAM spirit, according to home-spun footballing wisdom, is best measured by the attitude of those failing to make a matchday squad.
If everyone pulls in the same direction, so the theory goes, then great things are possible.
But dissent within the ranks, lack of shared belief or sense of purpose, can be a cancer for morale.
It is a hypothesis to which Richard Cresswell clearly subscribes after the Sheffield United striker, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against Notts County, again cited camaraderie among the South Yorkshire club’s players as a major factor behind its sparkling form.
“The atmosphere inside the dressing room is great,” Cresswell told The Star. “The place is buzzing before games and afterwards as well.
“We’re taking that out on to the pitch with us too and I think that definitely shows.
“We’re all in it together and we’re all ready to help one another out. If someone makes a mistake, as we are all going to do, then the rest of the lads are ready to jump in and help them get out of trouble.
“The same as, if someone starts getting a bit of ‘treatment’ then we’ll all stick up for each other as a group.”
Cresswell, who acknowledges United have benefited from a settled starting 11, is expected to start a fixture which could see Danny Wilson’s side stretch their winning run to seven games.
The United manager has made only five changes to his line-ups since last month’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy defeat by Bradford City, with eight players starting all of the previous six contests.
County were within one place of the automatic promotion berths after beating Chesterfield in October but have slipped to ninth in the table after winning only three since visiting the B2net Stadium.
United, meanwhile, are 10 points better off in third.
Wilson has chal
lenged those not in possession of a firs-team jersey to force their way into his plans.
with United hosting Hartlepool four days after
the televised contest with County, he could be tempted to utilise more of the options at his disposal over the important festive period.
Johannes Ertl - who, with Cresswell, featured during the victory over Bournemouth which moved United to within touching distance of Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday - is one of those hopeful of being handed a prominent role.
Cresswell will have been encouraged to see James Beattie and Marcus Williams both travelling to the Seward Stadium despite being ineligible.