Nigel Clough has warned his players they can not afford to repeat the woeful start which dashed their promotion hopes last season, writes James Shield.
But the Sheffield United manager, speaking ahead of tomorrow’s League One opener against Bristol City, insisted the South Yorkshire club is now better equipped to cope with pressure of being title favourites than it was 12 months ago.
Clough told The Star: “Mentally, I think we’re stronger. The experience at the start of last season will stand those who were here in good stead.
“It will act as an incentive because they’ll be thinking we don’t want to be down there again after 12 or 13 games because it’s a horrible place to get out of.
“That’s not a lack of ambition. You can’t win the league after 12 or 13 games but arguably you can lose it.”
Clough inherited a team languishing 21st in the table after taking only nine points from its first 13 games when he took charge of United in October. They eventually finished seventh, having also beaten Aston Villa and Fulham en route to the semi-finals of the FA Cup.
City enjoyed a similar upturn in fortunes following Steve Cotterill’s appointment midway through the campaign and Clough said: “People forget that, until they came to our place, Bristol City arguably had a better record than us. They were down there with us and Steve came in and turned them around. He’s made some brilliant signings and they’ll be as strong as anything in the league.
“There will be a fear of losing but hopefully that doesn’t manifest itself into a stalemate because we don’t do those very well. There might be periods when we defend but we always go out there to try and win the game.”