Nigel Clough, the Sheffield United manager, has urged his players to study cricketer’s at this month’s World Cup as they attempt to consolidate their place among League One’s top six teams, writes James Shield.
Outlining plans to create internal tension within his squad, the former England international insisted footballers could learn plenty from both their sporting counterparts in Australia and those competing for Rugby Union’s Six Nations crown.
“If you are a defender then, at a certain point in a game, you get together as a group of four or five and decide that, come what may, we are not going to concede,” Clough said. “If the forwards don’t score or do their jobs then, by all means, ask they why afterwards.
“There’s nothing wrong with that so long as it’s all constructive and within the right framework.
“It’s exactly what you’ll see happening in the cricket. The batsmen will look to take runs and then, if the bowlers don’t take the wickets then they’ll want to know why or vice versa.
“In the rugby, you see the same thing again between the forwards and the backs. It’s that ruthless streak you need to achieve.”
United, sixth in the table following Tuesday’s 4-1 victory over Colchester, travel to leaders Bristol City tomorrow 19 points behind their opponents from Ashton Gate. However, the gap would have been 16 but for last weekend’s careless display at Gillingham when two late goals condemned the visitors to a painful and potentially costly defeat.
“We should have been more ruthless there,” Clough acknowledged. “The lads in defence should have made it their business to ensure that, no matter what, Gillingham weren’t going to score or were going to have to come up with something special to do so. Then, leave the rest to those in more advanced positions or attacking roles.
“We’re looking for those little partnerships to develop all over the pitch. Those little groups you then knit together.”