Sheffield United: Blades are comfortable with top-billing

Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Sheffield United manager Nigel Clough � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
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Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, believes his team will be comfortable with their status as promotion favourites next term, writes James Shield.

And the former England international, who led United from 21st to seventh in the League One table and helped them reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup, is confident the squad he has assembled possesses the qualities required to cope with the weight of expectation set to engulf Bramall Lane following last season’s ominous statement of intent.

Clough told The Star: “We know what we want to do and what we want to achieve. We’ve got no problems with that because, when you are at a club like this one, it goes with the territory.

“There were some good strong characters here when we arrived and the new faces we’ve brought in are too. There’s some good experience there and they know what the situation is.

“That’s why they wanted to come here.”

United were spiralling towards relegation when Clough was appointed in October but, after losing only two of their remaining 19 matches, eventually finished within touching distance of the play-off positions.

Having also claimed two top-flight scalps en route to April’s Wembley showpiece against Hull City, the 48-year-old has subsequently bolstered the options at his disposal by making a series of forays into the transfer market with the likes of Chris Basham, Andy Butler and James Wallace joining the club in recent weeks.

Clough, who has made a new centre-forward his top priority added: “We’ve still got a few bits and bobs to do but we’re pleased with the business we’ve done so far because we think it’s improved what was already a strong group.

“But we won’t be taking anything for granted. You can’t. You do need that little bit of luck at times because you never know what this game will throw at you.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1