Sheffield United: Woolford agrees with grind

Martyn Woolford believes Sheffield United’s willingness to “grind out” victories could prove crucial when they host Bradford City tomorrow afternoon.
Martyn WoolfordMartyn Woolford
Martyn Woolford

The match takes place only 48 hours after the team’s respective Boxing Day fixtures against Wigan Athletic and Burton Albion were postponed.

Nigel Adkins, the United manager, conceded last week that the quick turnaround could prove particularly “challenging” at Bramall Lane where coaching staff pride themselves on their meticulous preparation for games.

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But Woolford said: “That ability to grind it out, when you’ve got two matches in as many days, could be vital.

“It’s that ability to say, come what may, we are going to take this, making the opposition know that if they are going to beat us they are going to have to outbattle us but, all the while, knowing we’re up for the fight.”

“Tiredness might take its toll,” Woolford added. “Your legs might not be a fresh as they usually are so you’ve got to be able to knuckle down.”

Adkins decision to change his tactical template following a difficult autumn has provoked much debate among players and supporters alikein recent weeks.

Nigel AdkinsNigel Adkins
Nigel Adkins
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Woolford, who joined United during the close season after leaving Millwall, acknowledged the shift was also partly motivated by a desire to improve confidence levels among the squad.

“We were probably chasing it too much and leaving ourselves open,” he said.

“Now, from trying to score four or five every game, we’ve settled back and told ourselves to just stop conceding.

“It gives you a base to build on and, with the ability we’ve got, we’ll always score.

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“With confidence comes free-flowing football. At times, we’ve probably tried too hard rather than doing what comes naturally.

“I’ve been guilty of that myself.”

Despite United’s unexpected break - Wigan, working in tandem with the match officials, deemed the DW Stadium’s playing surface to be dangerous following heavy rain in the North-west - Adkins’ comments about the “quick turnaround” are still relevant.

Although officials at Bramall Lane were informed the contest could be in doubt due to the adverse weather - car-parks surrounding the site later flooded when a nearby river burst its banks - Adkins and his players had spent Christmas Day focusing on the threats posed by Gary Caldwell’s side which, as the 50-year-old acknowledged, is set up differently to City.

“We know Bradford are going to be tough,” Adkins said.

“We had a real battle at their place earlier in the season and I’m expecting this will be the same.”

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“We always like to do lots of work on the training ground and then in the video analysis room,” he added.

“We use that to reinforce messages and illustrate some of the details.”

Jamal Campbell-Ryce and Jose Baxter are pushing for recalls against City and are regarded as two of the most technically gifted members of United’s squad.

But Woolford’s physical presence could prompt Adkins to select the same 11 which started the win over Scunthorpe earlier this month.

“We’ve had some good results lately,” Woolford said. “Hopefully that’s good for me.”