Camaraderie, cool heads and consistency, writes James Shield.
Three essential qualities of any successful team. And which, Jamie Murphy insisted last night, Sheffield United possess in abundance.
“We need to be on it for every single game,” he told The Star. “There’s going to be times where we need a bit of luck but, so long as we put in the performances we know we’re capable of, then hopefully everything should be okay.”
United embark upon their latest challenge for promotion with a home fixture against Bristol City this afternoon. The visitors, who are also expected to achieve at least a top six finish, represent dangerous opponents having signed the likes of Wade Elliott and Luke Freeman during the close season. But, after seeing a woeful start derail their most recent bid for the Championship, Murphy believes United are now better equipped withstand the rigours of League One football than at the same stage last term.
“You cannot win 46 games over the course of the season, there’s going to be games where bad things happen and it’s how you respond to that,” Murphy said. “It’s all about that start, last year we had a poor start so hopefully we can have a good one this time around.
“That cost us last year. We would probably have made the play-offs if we’d done better at the beginning.
“Our performances since the manager arrived show we are very close knit bunch now and you call that by the performances at the tail-end of last year.”
Nigel Clough’s appointment 10 months ago proved the catalyst for a dramatic upturn in fortune at Bramall Lane. United, with only nine points to their name when the 48-year-old arrived, climbed from 21st to seventh place and reached the FA Cup semi-finals.
Murphy, a driving force behind that run, said: “Everything’s nice and simple and we get the benefits. For example, he just tells me to run at defenders and take them on which is really enjoyable.
“Pre-season has been very hard work. The first couple of weeks were non-stop running but now everyone’s fit and ready for Saturday.
Nevertheless, despite his confidence, Murphy is under no illusions about the size of the task facing United this afternoon.
“It’s a tough one as I expect Bristol City to be one of the top teams this year,” he said. “We hopefully will be a top team as well and if we are going to do that, we need to put on performances against the bigger teams.
“Everyone’s expectant, we expect it of ourselves. I am sure the fans expect and it’s up to us to do it on the pitch.”