Jose Baxter believes Sheffield United’s mental discipline has been the driving force behind their 10 match winning streak.
The midfielder, whose goal against Carlisle enabled Nigel Clough’s side to secure the landmark result, admitted his colleagues were “knackered” towards the end of Wednesday’s night’s victory over the visitors from Brunton Park.
But with a run of form Baxter described as “remarkable” also containing nine clean sheets, he revealed United will enter Monday’s League One fixture at Preston North End ready to “give everything” in order to protect their records at both ends of the pitch.
“It just shows how tough we are,” Baxter said. “There were times during the game against Carlisle when we really had to grit our teeth and dig-in but that’s exactly what we did.
“During the last 15 minutes we didn’t have much left but we managed to grind it out and get the points. When the fans are behind you, like ours have been throughout all of this, it really does help you find an extra few yards of effort in your legs.
“I don’t think there are many teams in the world who are doing what we are doing right now. And the longer it goes on the more the self-belief grows.
“But what’s happened in the past has gone now. If we want this to continue then, although it sounds a bit cliched, all we can do is look to the next match.”
United, who reached next month’s FA Cup semi-finals when they beat Charlton Athletic last weekend, climbed to 10th in the table courtesy of Baxter’s first-half strike. Now eight points behind sixth-placed Peterborough with a game in hand, Clough acknowledged their season has “turned completely around” since suffering a 3-0 defeat at Crewe Alexandra 11 outings ago.
Clough, who could recall John Brayford for the trip to Deepdale after electing to rest the defender against Carlisle, struck a note of caution ahead of the meeting with a North End team harbouring aspirations of a top two finish.
“We’re further away from the bottom four now,” the former England international, appointed in October, said. “And that’s the first thing we’ve always looked for after coming here because of the situation we were in then.”
Nevertheless, despite that comment, there has been a tangible change in mood behind the scenes at Bramall Lane in midweek with several members of Clough’s squad acknowledging they are now looking forward rather than back.
“There are a lot of lads with a lot more experience than some of us, who have played a lot more games than us and who have told us they’ve never even been close to doing something like this before during their entire careers,” Baxter said. “So for us younger ones, it’s a genuine honour to be a part of and we want it to carry on for as long as possible.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work and it’s not been easy but the rewards are well worth it. It just proves what a togetherness there is among the lads ion the dressing room because it wouldn’t have been possible without that.
“But the one thing the gaffer has always drilled into us is that we can only look to the next match. So that’s what we’ll do.
“He’s a really honest guy and, because of that, he brings out the best in us.”
“Carlisle are a good team and they really took the game to us,” Baxter added. “They didn’t come just ready to lay down. They came to win the game but we were ready to give everything.”