Nigel Adkins believes the spirit in Sheffield United’s camp could not be better, ahead of their season opener against Gillingham this weekend.
Adkins’ side completed their pre-season programme on Sunday, and ensured they finished it unbeaten after a 1-1 draw against Championship side Hull City.
And, ahead of Saturday’s long trip to Gillingham’s MEMS Priestfield Stadium, the United boss said: “It’s been a promising pre-season. I’ve been in the game a long time - this is my 34th pre-season - and now we’re looking forward to getting started and playing for points.
“Results don’t matter as much at this stage but to finish unbeaten is pleasing, and it’s better than suffering six defeats!
“There’s a real feel-good factor amongst the players, and the attitude and camaraderie in the players has been spot on. In fact, it has been spot on since the day we arrived here.”
Since Adkins was announced as Nigel Clough’s permanent successor in June, United’s results have been similarly impressive, too, with victories against the likes of Ilkeston and Macclesfield and creditable draws with Hull and Newcastle United.
But the manner in which Adkins’ side has gone about its business has caught the eye, too, and a side which bordered on cautious under the previous regime has, seemingly, been given something of a licence to thrill this season.
Che Adams, who was plucked from non-league Ilkeston by Clough, has emerged as one of the division’s brightest young prospects while the arrival of Billy Sharp, a boyhood Blade, gives United a strike-force capable of troubling most League One defences.
“I know we’re going to score goals,” Adkins, who can also call upon strikers Michael Higdon and Marc McNulty at Gillingham, with Matt Done injured, added.
“We have the repertoire throughout the team; an array of talent and options.
“Now, it’s about bringing it all together. We’ve looked dangerous from set-plays in pre-season, which is important, but from open play, too, we have threats throughout the team.”
Sharp, who will make his third competitive ‘debut’ for United on Saturday, helped Adkins’ Scunthorpe reach the Championship in 2006/07 and then, again with Adkins, reached the Premier League with Southampton.
“I’ve got promotions before but definitely, if I could do it here, that would be the sweetest,” Sharp, who cost £500,000 from Leeds, admitted.
“I’m not going to lie and say that’s not what we’re looking to do.”