Nigel Adkins, the Sheffield United manager, is encouraging his players to express an opinion on how the team should approach League One games.
The unusual approach, together with his decision to establish a ‘leadership group’ at the club’s Steelphalt Academy training complex, forms part of a process coaching staff believe will help squad members “think better and sharper” during match situations.
“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a free for all,” Adkins told The Star. “It’s structured in a way whereby my decision is final. But I want players to make decisions and have the ability to do that on the field of play.
“I’ll ask questions about what their thinking is with regards to certain situations. ‘What are you expecting of ‘Player A’ if you do this or that?’ And by talking about things like that, you find things out about those around you and what their demands are. You learn more, from my perspective at least, about different facets of your professional.”
Adkins, whose side climbed to fifth following Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Fleetwood Town, host 14th placed Millwall tomorrow with young defenders Kieran Wallace and Harrison McGahey expected to start after being praised for their mature performances in recent weeks.
“The first level of building any team is trust,” Adkins said. “You need to know that you can go out there and make mistakes. But you also need to show that you can learn from them, learn the lessons of what you’ve done.”
“The first person you look at is yourself,” he added. “Yes, there’s the discipline and the leadership role. But people also have to make decisions and be assertive themselves, be able to make decisions for the right reasons out there on the pitch.”