The coaching gurus have spent all summer telling them, instead of blood, sweat and thunder, success at Championship level requires a more sophisticated approach.
But Sheffield United can use this result as evidence the high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled football which delivered promotion last season can prove just as effective against supposedly more cultured teams.
Revealing manager Chris Wilder had instructed his players to “go full throttle” following back to back defeats, Mark Duffy insisted the Blades’ performance against Barnsley justified the decision to recreate the spirit of last season’s League One title push.
“It felt a bit more like that,” the midfielder said. “We took the handbrake off and went for them.
“The Championship can be about keeping the ball and moving it from side to side. But we want to overload teams with bodies.
“When we’re playing, you sometimes hear their lads saying:‘There are players everywhere. Who am I picking up?’ We were like that again.”
United’s ferocity came at a price, however, with Leon Clarke seeing red after confronting Angus MacDonald who was also dismissed.
Like Wilder, Duffy felt the centre-forward was unfortunate to receive his marching orders although, by the letter of the law, referee Tim Robinson was left with no other choice.
A near-impenetrable fortress throughout United’s march out of the third tier, Bramall Lane also holds the key to success for United this term.
Predictably it was Billy Sharp, one of the driving forces behind that historic campaign, who scored the goal which stretched the club’s winning run on home soil to 11 games.
Sharp, the United captain, was on target for the 32nd time in 53 outings as Wilder’s side grabbed the match by the throat.
Paul Heckingbottom, the Barnsley manager, later admitted he knew his team would fall behind after being overwhelmed during the opening exchanges. They improved as the contest progressed but United should have won by a greater margin.
“The gaffer wanted us to go full throttle because that’s the way we played last year,” Duffy said.”It is hard for teams to keep with us when we do.”
TALE OF TWO REDS
With Duffy returning in midfield and Jake Wright deputising for the injured Richard Stearman, Wilder reverted to the tried-and-tested line-up which has served him so well since being appointed 15 months ago.
Both impressed as United threatened to overwhelm their neighbours until Heckingbottom threw caution to the wind.
Clarke also caught the eye, interspersing some powerful hold-up play with a series of delicate turns and touches. But his involvement was curtailed after he reactedangrily to MacDonald’s attempted headbutt following an off-the-ball incident.
Heckingbottom had no issue with Robinson’s take on events. Wilder offered a more sympathetic view when asked about Clarke’s part in the dust-up, explaining MacDonald had also tried to “thump” the former Wolves striker.
“It is a local derby and a bit of a coming together,” Duffy said. “I felt the referee could have given a couple of yellows and we just carried on with the game. I’m not sure exactly what Leon did. We’ll have to look at it.”
Sharp had already gone close, drawing the first of several fine saves from Davies, when he converted from close range.
Jack O’Connell, who later saw a header parried away to safety, swept a low centre across the Barnsley area and, despite falling backwards, his teammate produced a clinical finish. J
ohn Fleck, who had been involved in the move which presented Sharp with his first opportunity, saw a shot blocked by Jason McCarthy before O’Connell fired a speculative effort over the crossbar.
The introduction of David Brooks’ provided United with extra impetus midway through the second period and the youngster was unfortunate not to extend their lead when, after squeezing the ball beneath Davies, it rolled across the line and hit the far post.
“We are here to stay, definitely,” Duffy said.
“The gaffer had a word with us beforehand and reminded us that we don’t want back-handed compliments. We want to win games.”