Wigan Athletic have been warned they face a war of attrition when Sheffield United visit to DW Stadium this afternoon.
Speaking ahead of the Boxing Day fixture, which could exert huge influence over the race for promotion from League One, United manager Nigel Adkins indicated his team are set to follow the same tactical template which has seen them win their last three matches by the narrowest of margins.
“Wigan play a different way to most teams in our division,” he said. “They’ve got a big squad and so they might change things around. If we leave ourselves wide open, a la Coventry, then they’ve got players who can hurt you. So, it goes without saying, that’s not something we plan on doing.”
United, who have beaten Oldham, Coventry City and Scunthorpe 1-0 since drawing with Barnsley last month, unveiled their new judicious approach during the recent victory over Tony Mowbray’s side. Adkins arrived at Bramall Lane promising to construct an open, attack-minded team but, despite refusing to lose sight of his long-term vision, acknowledges his change of tact was prompted by concerns over the amount of goals United were conceding following a 4-2 defeat by Shrewsbury Town at home.
“It couldn’t continue,” Adkins said. “We knew we had to change what was happening and, part of that, was being less open. Were we too expansive before? I don’t know. But what I do is that we had to tighten up and it’s good to see that the lads have shown the right spirit, the right tenacity and the right togetherness. There’s a shared purpose and vision about them which is good to see.”
“I’ll always back us and expect us to create the chances to score goals with the players we have here,” Adkins added. “We have always scored goals since the start of the season but we were letting too many in without a shadow of a doubt.”