Nigel Clough has mounted a passionate defence of his team after rubbishing suggestions they have adopted a safety first approach, writes James Shield.
But the Sheffield United manager, whose fifth-placed side visit Barnsley on Saturday, did warn that being too cavalier during the closing stages of games could cost them dear as the battle for play-off qualification enters a pivotal phase.
“We have been criticised for having this don’t lose attitude,” Clough said. “But people misinterpret it as being negative.
“All we are saying is ‘Just don’t lose the game, get a point on the board’ if things aren’t going as well as you’d like.
“Because nothing hurts you more than a defeat. Or your confidence.”
United failed to record their third straight victory at Bramall Lane last weekend when, having beaten Port Vale and Scunthorpe, Crewe Alexandra scored a winning goal in the 90th minute. Barnsley are after drawing 2-2 with League One leaders Bristol City while fellow top-six hopefuls Doncaster Rovers, who face United in seven days time, remain 11th having played one game less.
“It’s good to try and keep the points total ticking over,” Clough added. “We can cement our place in the play-offs over the course of the next two games if we get positive results. And, it goes without saying, that’s what we will be aiming to do.
“It always takes a few days to get over a defeat but that’s exactly what we will do. Get over it.”
United, who will assess injuries sustained by Jose Baxter, Ryan Flynn and Steven Davies before deciding upon their starting eleven at Oakwell, could recall Terry Kennedy if he proves his fitness during a behind-closed-doors friendly this week
Clough said: “We conceded two poor goals against Crewe and in the last couple of games, we haven’t. It’s fairly simple.
“When we got it back to 1-1, we were entitled to go on and not lose the game. You still go for the win, yes, but definitely don’t lose it either which is the lesson we have to learn.”
Kennedy and Stefan Scougall, who has not featured since February, both took part as United’s under-21’s beat City 4-0 in the Professional Development League yesterday. Scougall opened the scoring before Che Adams, Dominc Calvert-Lewin and Ben Whiteman also pounced.
“Tel (Kennedy) and Scougs got some important minutes under their belts,” coach Chris Morgan said.