Ben Davies has warned Sheffield United not to underestimate the threat poised by Leyton Orient after branding events surrounding last month’s meeting between the two as “bizarre.”
The former Derby County midfielder revealed Orient’s players knew manager Russell Slade was preparing to resign his position ahead of their Capital One Cup clash 18 days ago.
But, speaking as they prepare to renew their rivalry, Davies told The Star that Kevin Nugent’s imminent appointment as manager means Orient are likely to prove a more formidable proposition during this afternoon’s League One encounter at Bramall Lane.
Francesco Becchetti, the visitors’ Italian owner, used his column in the matchday programme to criticise Slade before United’s third round victory which marked the end of the 54-year-old’s reign.
Davies said: It was a really strange night the last time we played Orient. There was the piece from their chairman and it was all a bit bizarre.
“I think Russell Slade knew his time was up and, speaking to a couple of their lads beforehand, they knew it was going to be his last game. They’ll be a much different team now.”
United slipped to 11th in the table when they were beaten 3-2 by Chesterfield last weekend. Orient are 20th but have not lost away from home since April.
Urging his team mates to seize control of today’s encounter straight from kick-off, Davies said: “The first goal, especially in this league, is vitally important. That’s something we’ve not done enough of because it enables everyone to relax and gets the crowd going too.
“We know we’ve been poor away from home but we’ve been strong at Bramall Lane and we want that to continue.
“We’re fortunate to play in front of 18,000 every week. That lifts you.
But it can also make it harder to because, no disrespect to other people, but they are used to being out there in front of two or three thousand at times. They’ll look at coming here as being a great day out because this is a Championship club and more.
“But if we raise our game and get the first goal, then we know our quality will shine through.”
Davies joined United permanently during the close season after initially arriving on loan in February. They kept a clean sheet in each of his first eight outings following that temporary switch.
“We’ve conceded too many, especially away from home,” he said. “We know that. It’s gone from one extreme to the other and we’ve got to get back to keeping clean sheets.
“I can’t really put my finger on why it’s been like that. I came here in February last season and it was ages before we conceded.
“It was like ‘Blimey, what’s happened there?’ because we’d conceded a goal. We have to be tougher and more aggressive, both individually and as a team right across the board.
“But we know we can do it and there’s no better time to start than here and right now. We want three points.”