Michael Doyle has warned Sheffield United they risk spending another year in League One if complacency is allowed to undermine the club’s bid for promotion, writes James Shield.
The former Republic of Ireland international issued his threat ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Gillingham where sixth-placed United will attempt to bounce back from Tuesday’s FA Cup defeat by Preston North End.
In a no-holds-barred critique of their performance, Doyle admitted last season’s semi-finalists had been “sloppy” and “lacklustre” against Simon Grayson’s side before revealing manager Nigel Clough had accused them of “playing like it was a pre-season game.”
“We were outworked, out-fought and went through the motions a bit,” Doyle told The Star. “They had the bit between their teeth and we didn’t.
“We didn’t have the same mentality we’ve shown of late. When that happens, you get beaten.
“What we faced when Preston came here is what we’re going to face at Gillingham this weekend. They’re strong and direct so we’ll have to stand up to it.
“The league is all that’s left now and that’s the bread and butter. But, because of what we’ve done in the cups lately, to lose like that was disappointing. We went out with a whimper and so we’ve got to bounce back.
“We’ll be looking to do that straight away and get back to doing what had been serving us so well. We know what we’ve got to do because we’ve done it before.”
United, who knocked Swindon Town off the top of the table when they triumphed 2-0 last weekend, could hand debuts to new signings Jason Holt and Matt Done at Priestfield. They trail second-placed MK Dons by 16 points but have plated two games fewer than the Buckinghamshire club.
Nevertheless, Doyle insisted the fourth round replay with North End had highlighted another matter both he and his team mates must urgently confront.
“Set-pieces have been a problem all season,” Doyle said. “Preston got three goals, from a free-kick, a corner and a penalty so that’s something we’ve got to sort out.
“Set-pieces seem to have been the way teams have been scoring against us so we’ve got to address that among ourselves.”