Born just across the water in Birkenhead, Nigel Adkins was fascinated by events at Anfield on Thursday evening where Liverpool completed the mother of all comebacks to reach the last four of the Europa League.
Sheffield United must produce something of Lazarian, nevermind Dejan Lovren, proportions in order to secure a top six finish after falling nine points off the pace with five matches left to play.
But, as he addressed the media ahead of this afternoon’s meeting with Chesterfield, witnessing the destruction of Dortmund only appeared to have strengthened Adkins’ conviction that fortune favours the bold and the brave.
“I’m a Red and I was watching it on the television,” he said. “There’s no way you could have scripted that. But, do you know what? It just goes to show why you should never, ever, give-up.”
The trouble for United as they prepare to visit the Proact Stadium is that, unlike Jurgen Klopp’s side, they require four clubs to crumble under pressure rather than just one. Adkins, speaking at the Steelphalt Academy training complex yesterday, accepted his words will almost certainly fail to resonate with United’s increasingly sceptical support but, following another recent display of sporting heroics, hopes they strike some sort of chord in the away dressing room.
“It’s easy to give-up,” Adkins continued. “Anyone can do that. It’s a message I’ve used all the way through my career and I like to think it’s not served me too badly. I make sure I’m surrounded with people who share it too.
“Danny Willett, when he won The Masters golf on Sunday, did he give-up? Jordan Speith was running away with it at one point but no, Danny kept on fighting. Yes, we know it’s a big ask but we’ve got to keep on fighting as well. Doing the basics well to an elite level.”
Adkins, reporting no fresh injury concerns, is expected to overhaul the options at his disposal during the close season when, barring seismic shift in the League One table, United will again be competing in League One.
Although the former Scunthorpe and Southampton chief must accept ultimate responsibility for their failure to mount a serious challenge for promotion, his first 10 months at the helm have also been spent trying to untangle the complex web of problems created by years of instability and flux. Adkins, whose predecessor Danny Wilson will be across the technical area tomorrow, is the 10th person to take charge of United since their relegation from the Premier League in 2007.
There is, however, evidence to suggest his methods are starting to take effect following combative displays against Walsall and Gillingham earlier this month.
“We’ve cut the squad and changed the shape,” he said. “There are some positive things going on.”