Alan Biggs at Large: JCR given a licence to thrill at Sheffield United

Jamal Campbell-Ryce
Jamal Campbell-Ryce
Have your say

Jamal Campbell-Ryce reckons he can keep going like the clappers. Thanks to a manager who claps his flair players – for losing the ball!

That is far from being as daft as it sounds, more an inspired approach to galvanising those performers whose game is about running at speed and beating a man, or making a defence-splitting pass.

By Pete McKee

By Pete McKee

There aren’t all that many of either sort in League One, those who can execute those skills regularly.

Whereas plenty can make a clearance, pass neatly or strike a ball goal-wards. But they aren’t likely to be the ones who unlock tight matches.

Sheffield United have a few who can and it is Nigel Adkins’ method of harnessing them that provides another telling insight into his management skills.

Take Campbell-Ryce, very much back in the fold following Adkins’ appointment after being shipped back to Notts County on loan last season.

As a winger of the old-fashioned variety (though they seem to be coming back), the much-travelled wide man can be a fragile commodity – in unsympathetic hands.

The Adkins philosophy is to put his hands together – at the very times when some members of a crowd might be moaning in frustration.

It’s a small gesture but an unusual one that fills Campbell-Ryce with renewed confidence and belief.

“He’s the first manager I’ve seen applauding players when they give the ball away,” the former Rotherham and Barnsley flanker tells me.

“He understands and appreciates that people like Che Adams, Jose Baxter and myself will try things in the final third.”

Applauding is Adkins’ way of encouraging them to keep trying those things, rather than opt out with a simple ball inside as some are cowed into doing.

Jamal adds: “Wingers are renowned for getting at people and also giving the ball away. But that one time, beating somebody can create a goal.

“For instance, before we played Newcastle in a friendly, the manager said: ‘Somebody go out and do something to excite the crowd.’ That’s a player’s dream, to have the freedom to express yourself, and we’re thriving on it.

“This is a happy place. I feel, with this manager, we have the ingredients to do what we’ve been promising for years.

“I’m hungry for that success.

“People think I’m slowing down but I’ve still got a bit of pace in me yet.”

Campbell-Ryce may be 32 but then again, the strikers he and other United wide men are charged with supplying are pushing the 30 mark - with no loss of impetus.

Billy Sharp and Conor Sammon also offer great variety.

“There are so many options with these two and also Marc McNulty and Michael Higdon,” says London-born Jamal, who started with Charlton and boasts eight goals for Jamaica.

“They make my job easier. I can stand a ball up for Conor to head or play one in for Sharpy to get in front of or behind defenders.

“They could also get my assist bonuses up! My job is to create and score; the more the better.”