Tony Currie, the former Sheffield United and England midfielder, has paid tribute to Nigel Clough for transforming the League One club’s campaign, writes James Shield.
And Currie, a legendary figure among the Bramall Lane support, told The Star that United’s march into the semi-finals of this season’s FA Cup vindicates the manager’s decision to dispense with the tactical template he inherited after being appointed six months ago.
Speaking ahead of tonight’s game against Stevenage - their first fixture since Sunday’s defeat at Wembley by Yorkshire rivals Hull City. Currie said: “The biggest and most important change for me is the positive approach the players now seem to have. They are playing a system which suits them perfectly and one they’ve clearly bought into.
“Now, their first thought is to get forward and attack their marker. The whole mindset of the squad has changed in such a short space of time and results demonstrate that.”
United were 19th when they drew 0-0 at The Lamex Stadium in December. Now, 26 matches later, they prepare to host Graham Westley’s side eight places higher and reflecting upon becoming only the ninth third-tier team to reach the last four of the cup since the league was expanded 94 years ago.
“Nigel has brought in a few players, John Brayford and Stefan Scougall in particular, who have given things a more positive edge,” Currie said. “But that’s benefited others in the team too. The defence was getting criticised earlier in the season but that was because they were under so much pressure because those in front of them weren’t keeping the ball.
“That’s changed now and Michael Doyle, I thought, was exceptional during the first half at Wembley - always demanding and making himself available.
“It was a real captain’s performance but that went right the way through the whole side.”
Currie, who represented United between 1968 and 1976, added: “I was at Wembley and I also just want to thank the fans for the welcome they gave me when we were walking around outside the stadium beforehand. The affection they showed me meant so much and it’s things like that which money can’t buy.
“Mind you, I wish I had a fiver for every picture or autograph I was asked for. Our fans were brilliant when the game got underway too.
“Now, it’s a season we can look back on with pride. That’s down to Nigel and the lads.”