Sheffield United manager Nigel Adkins has vowed to build a team capable of igniting the Bramall Lane crowd after admitting he “understands” why his squad faced huge criticism from the terraces earlier this term.
Adkins issued the pledge following last weekend’s draw with Gillingham which, despite almost certainly condemning them to another year in League One, saw United’s players applauded off the pitch following a whole-hearted display against the division’s fifth-placed club.
Adkins, who earlier this week rubbished suggestions he wants to leave South Yorkshire after a difficult first season in charge, insisted the reception demonstrates why a period of stability would be desirable behind the scenes.
“There have been encouraging signs. We work hard on the training ground and it was exciting for the supporters which is good because we want to be united together,” he said. “Their appreciation and backing is very much appreciated by us.
“We are in a division we want to get out of. We have been in in for a long time now and so there’s a frustration there which we understand. But it’s about grit, you’ve just got to keep grinding away at it. The players are going about their business in a way the supporters appreciate.”
United, who were relegated from the Championship in 2011, dominated long periods of the contest but slipped to 10th with only five matches remaining after failing to achieve the breakthrough their efforts warranted.
“You don’t always get what you deserve in life but, when that happens, you’ve just got to pick yourself up and go again,” Adkins said. “Great credit to the players because they put in a great shift for each other out there.
“The reception was nice, especially because it was a victory that we are after. We might not be the best players but we work hard. There was some exciting football out there. All we can do is keep building and focus on the next game.”
United, who have now won three and drawn one of their last four home games, return to action against Chesterfield on Saturday but wing-back Matt Done could miss the contest after leaving the stadium wearing a “protective boot.
I’ve got Andy (Crosby), Dean (Wilkins) and Darren (Ward) on the coaching staff and they work exceptionally hard,” Adkins said. “We are seeing the fruition of that work on the training ground now.”