Sheffield United: Blades are told how to take Nottingham Forest out of their comfort zone
Sheffield United have been told the easiest way of controlling Friday’s game against Nottingham Forest.
The match, of critical importance to both club’s seasons, will see Paul Heckingbottom’s side attempt to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at Millwall - their first Championship loss in 10 outings.
Although Forest are expected to try and attack the game - in stark contrast to the destructive approach Hull City adopted when they ground out a goalless draw at Bramall Lane towards the end of last month - Heckingbottom is urging his players to learn the lessons of that encounter and also their most recent appearance on home soil; a 4-0 victory over Swansea City.
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“If you take chances, the moment you convert one, the pattern of the entire game changes,” Heckingbottom said. “The flow of it, the way it feels, starts to get set then.”
Although Heckingbottom expressed his disappointment with United’s performance in south London, coaching staff privately believe mental fatigue was responsible for their subdued display. After contesting seven fixtures in the space of 22 days, United will have enjoyed a near week long break by the time they lock horns with fellow play-off contenders Forest.
“We want quick plays, we want one on ones and we want goals of course,” Heckingbottom continued. “Like everyone else, we want to impose ourselves on the opposition. If you do that, then you can play the type of way you want or prefer.
“We can play, I think, in different ways. But you want to be the ones in control, not having to try and fight your way back in.”
Two strikes inside the opening 20 minutes, from Morgan Gibbs-White and George Baldock, saw United seize their clash with Swansea by the scruff of the neck before Billy Sharp stretched their advantage just before half-time. Gibbs-White pounced again during the closing stages and, after netting during United’s draw with Forest earlier this term, is expected to be recalled to the starting eleven having been introduced at Millwall from the bench.
“We’ve had to change because of the workload,” said Heckingbottom, who conceded United had been dragged into a war of “attrition” in the capital. “But we still want to see the same things.”