Alan Biggs' Sheffield United column: Blades defender reveals insight into how United have approached this season
Blasé, no. Big on belief, yes. And certainly not bashful ... what it means to be a Blades player these days.
There can be no bigger insight than the words of George Baldock as Sheffield United head for Arsenal this weekend and a big gun they have already spiked this season.
“Just another game,” is the generic view of the right wing-back, regardless of any opposition. But intermingled with what he calls the “massive” importance of “staying humble.”
It’s the mindset mix that has served United so well in their Premier League adventure so far, instilled and insisted upon by Chris Wilder and his management team.
But in one crucial sense, their mentality has changed ahead of a huge few days that sees Manchester City at Bramall Lane on Tuesday.
Baldock told me over Christmas that excitement and a sense of wonder no longer figure. “In terms of going into big games, that’s kind of worn off a bit now,” he said.
“It’s just another game now. We don’t go in all starry-eyed or anything like that. It’s just business and trying to get three points. As many as we can.”
Which could be a total far outstripping anyone’s expectations. Cue another shift in mentality. “Definitely,” Baldock agreed. “At the start of the season we were looking at where we were getting our points from.
“That’s not us looking at it negatively. It’s just us going into the unknown. Now we’re here and we believe we deserve to be here.”
Without overlooking the main target of “making sure we stay in this division, our goal at the start of the season ... in a daunting league.”
Except that Wilder’s men are no longer daunted, even if their current standards have dipped just a little.
No-one embodies that more than Baldock, who has boldly stamped himself as a genuine Premier League player. Among many others.
“Sometimes that’s overlooked because of our backgrounds,” he says. “Everyone, to a man, has stepped up.”
Without losing that all-important team ethic. “There are no babies, no sulkers. A group of men putting team before self. No big egos, a group together.
“It’s a massive thing for us that everyone in there is humble. We haven’t achieved anything yet. No matter how well we do, I think this dressing room under this manager will always be the same. Because there’s no arrogance from the manager or the staff.”
But that doesn’t preclude personal ambition, far from it. Any player wanting to join the Blades in the window, note this from Baldock: “Sheffield United look a lot into mentality and personality ... whether you can play under pressure.”
Train under pressure as well. “I can’t emphasise this enough; you do train how you play. Distances covered are not too far away from a game day.”
And what a distance they have collectively covered in being sixth in the Premier League!