Sheffield United: ‘We’re determined to try and go up as champions’

Mark Duffy wants to sign-off what has already been a hugely successful campaign by lifting some silverware.

Friday, 3rd May 2019, 5:21 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd May 2019, 6:25 pm
Mark Duffy wants to win the Championship title: James Wilson/Sportimage

After guaranteeing their place in the Premier League next season with a game to spare, Sheffield United enter Sunday's match against Stoke City knowing a win would see them wrestle the Championship title from Norwich City's grasp if Daniel Farke's side are beaten by Aston Villa.

Although Duffy conceded United have already accomplished the most important part of their mission, the midfielder said the celebrations which followed last weekend's victory over Ipswich Town have been placed on hold until their return from the bet365 Stadium.

"We have celebrated but it all got nipped in the bid quickly by the gaffer," Duffy said. "He reminded us that there's still something to play for and it would top-off an unbelievable year if we go up as champions.

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"It's in Norwich's hands and the main thing was getting promoted of course.

“But if we can do that, finish first, then it would be brilliant."

United's preparations for the visit to Staffordshire, where Nathan Jones' side are in 16th, reveal one of the driving forces behind their climb to second in the table despite spending significantly less than many of their divisional rivals.

Although Wilder's players celebrated their achievement in style - as many of the videos which subsequently emerged on social media will testify - United's coaching staff summoned them back into training on Tuesday morning. The scheduling, Duffy explained, was designed to send a message.

"Every time we go out there on the pitch, we want to win," he said. "It doesn't matter what the occasion is or what is at stake, we always want to come out on top. It's part of the mind-set here and that's helped carry us through. We treat ever single game and every single opponents with the utmost respect."

Duffy, aged 33, has enjoyed the most productive period of his career at Bramall Lane since arriving on a free transfer in 2016. Previously of Birmingham City, the Liverpudlian was a member of the squad crowned League One champions during Wilder's first 12 months in charge before mounting a top six challenge last term.

Revealing why he has been conspicuous by his absence from some of the footage circulating on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, Duffy said: "I got shouted at for being too drunk when we went up a couple of years back so I thought I'd let someone else take the limelight.

"Joking aside, I've told some of the younger lads this week to grab it and enjoy it because you never know when something else like this might come around.

“That's why we'll be going there and giving our all to try and get the three points that could make us champions."

Duffy's journey through football has captured the imagination of many news outlets this week, desperate to chart his rise from Vauxhall Motors and Prescot Cables to the pinnacle of the domestic game.

"I probably never thought it would happen, getting to the Premier League," he said. "I was just trying to enjoy my football back then it we're about to go into a totally different world but I'd never change what I did. It toughens you up makes you a man and you appreciate it even more."