Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has vowed his team will fear no one in League One next term, writes James Shield.
After winning 15 of their final 23 matches last season and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup, United’s impressive finish to the 2013/14 campaign means they are expected to challenge for promotion when competition resumes in August.
And, despite warning his squad is still far from the finished article, Clough is confident that objective can be achieved providing they harness the camaraderie and spirit of the past seven months.
“There’s nothing for us to be frightened of,” he said. “Providing we can keep the majority of the group we’ve got intact and bring a few in then we shouldn’t be afraid of anyone.
“We finished strongly and, although everyone is looking forward to their break, in a way we also wished we could have carried the season on for just a little while longer.
“But we’re all excited about getting back to work and, at a football club, that’s a good feeling to have.”
Clough has transformed United’s fortunes since taking charge on October 23.
Having inherited a team battling against relegation, the 48-year-old and his staff eventually guided the South Yorkshire club to within touching distance of the play-offs.
Livingston centre-forward Marc McNulty and former loanee Ben Davies feature on United’s list of targets while Clough is keeping a watching brief on Billy Sharp’s situation at Southampton.
“There’s a good feeling around the place,” he said. “Hopefully the fans feel the same.”