Sheffield United: Players, not formations, are the key

Stamina, skill and spirit, not systems and shape, will settle tonight's meeting with Burton Albion, Nigel Adkins insisted last night, despite attempting to keep the visitors guessing about the tactics he plans to employ.

Monday, 29th February 2016, 11:00 pm
Sheffield United drew 0-0 at Burton Albion earlier this season ©2015 Sport Image all rights reserved

The Sheffield United manager’s decision to alter his team’s modus operandi in recent weeks provides another fascinating sub-plot to a fixture which marks Nigel Clough’s return to Bramall Lane ninth months after being sacked by the South Yorkshire club.

Adkins, who replaced Clough at the helm in June, has used a variety of different formations since taking charge during the close season. But, speaking ahead of this pivotal League One fixture, he said: “The principles are what are really important for me.

“You can talk about shapes forever. But they can change at any given time.

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“We want to build through the back, get the ball forward as quickly as possible in that manner and create goal scoring chances. Ideally, we also want to press from the front as well. But, how will we line up for any given match? You’ll have to wait and see.”

Adkins has introduced a series of changes to United’s coaching regime after being appointed with Sunday analysis sessions now a regular feature on the Steelphalt Academy calendar. The 50-year-old also took the decision to revise United’s training schedule before last weekend’s meeting with Rochdale to provide “a stimulus” between now and the end of the campaign.

“Sometimes, it’s just nice to brighten things up a little bit,” Adkins said. “It’s a long season and it stops people from getting into a rut, keeps everybody fresh and sharp.”