Sheffield United: ‘We want to go from the Pub League to the Premier League and prove our doubters wrong’
Mark Duffy admits Sheffield United's players are determined to prove the doubters wrong by reaching the Premier League after acknowledging most of Chris Wilder's promotion chasing squad were written-off at the the beginning of their careers.
United enter Friday's game against Aston Villa knowing a win will see them seize first place in the Championship with 15 matches remaining.
Like many of his team mates, Duffy experienced a spell in non-league football before turning professional. Speaking ahead of the meeting with Dean Smith's side, he believes those humble backgrounds have equipped Wilder's men with a potentially decisive edge.
"It's a motivation to prove people wrong, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt," Duffy said. "Having that basically comes down to the recruitment and good work the staff have put in.
"Some of us, people might say, have under-achieved in our careers before coming here. But you put us all together and we've got real fire in our bellies. Our aim was to go better than last year and, hopefully, that means promotion."
United, who remained in play-off contention until the penultimate match of last season, travel to the Midlands ranked third; three points behind second-placed Leeds and leaders Norwich City but with a superior goal difference.
"Maybe, individually, you could say some of us have under-achieved before," Duffy added. "But collectively, we're all on the right path. People look back and say 'He was from League One, League Two or the Conference. That's where they should be. We want to show that's not the case at all."
Despite the high-stakes, Duffy is adamant are not under the same kind of pressure as other clubs chasing a top two finish.
"You come into football to be top of any division," he explained. "So, really, it's not pressure at all. Some teams have financially thrown a lot of money at it. So the pressure on us only comes from ourselves, with what we want to achieve together."