RICHARD Cresswell has seen it all during his footballing career so, when the vastly experienced striker insists that Sheffield United are on the verge of achieving something special, the South Yorkshire club’s rivals would be advised to pin back their ears and listen.
This victory over Bournemouth at the Seward Stadium not only lifted Danny Wilson’s side to third in the League One table but, even more ominously, prompted their veteran attacker to draw comparisons between the camaraderie in the visiting camp and the spirit which catapulted his previous employers into the top-flight three years ago.
“I really feel that we’re capable of going on and doing a lot of good things between now and the end,” Cresswell said. “You can just feel it in the dressing room. Not only before matches but after them as well.
“There’s a real buzz about the place at the moment and that’s great to see.
“We’ve got a settled team, we’re getting to know one another and we’re getting to know our roles but just as importantly we’re backing each other up out there and showing that we’re ready to dig our mates out of a hole if required.
“It really does remind me of what it was like at Stoke when I went up there a while back. There’s the same mood and atmosphere around the camp.”
Although Wilson’s counterpart Lee Bradbury insisted the manner in which victory was achieved was somewhat fortuitous - both United’s ‘goals’ being turned home by opposition defenders - there was nothing flaky about their performance.
Commanding at the back and creative in attack, Bournemouth seldom troubled a team that has now won all of its last six outings.
Indeed, had Cresswell not been denied his fifth of the campaign by a terribly poor refereeing decision, then the final score-line would have been even more emphatic.
Plenty of theories have been put forward to explain the transformation in United’s fortunes since being relegated last season.
While Cresswell acknowledged that success inevitably improves cohesiveness and confidence, he is adamant that the contributions of Wilson and his assistant Frank Barlow must not be over-looked.
“The importance of psychology in professional sport can’t be ignored,” he said. “You get to this level because you have the ability and so what really makes the difference can be what goes on in the mind.
“The gaffer has been in this business a long time and he’s made everyone believe in themselves. He’s got inside our heads and he’s not only a fantastic manager but he’s a fantastic guy to work for as well.
“I think the belief that he’s given us has been absolutely key.”
Ched Evans has particularly benefited from the new regime’s clinical approach and was responsible for delivering the two crosses which first Adam Barrett and then Steve Cook prodded beyond a helpless Darryl Flahavan.
Stephen Quinn, Lee Williamson and Kevin McDonald, whose poise helped United finish the afternoon having enjoyed two thirds of possession before departing early in the second period, set in motion the chain of events which broke the deadlock with barely six minutes gone.
Bournemouth’s hopes of snatching a point were dashed with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining when Evans again darted clear and centred for the onrushing Cresswell.
“You couldn’t blame Adam or Steve for doing what they did,” said Wilson. “In fact, I’d defy anyone to try and clear those balls that Ched put in.
“If their lads hadn’t have tipped them over the line then one of ours would.”
In between Marc Pugh, one of the few Bournemouth players to threaten United’, and Charlie Sheringham, making his full debut for the hosts in front of proud father Teddy, saw brief flashes of goal.
But before captain Michael Doyle had a long-range effort palmed away, Cresswell stroked home after rounding Flahavan only for the officials to deem the ball had been prevented from crossing the whitewash by a Bournemouth defender.
“It was well over,” Cresswell said. “Probably by about a yard or so. It wasn’t even close so I’m not sure why it wasn’t given.”