Nigel Clough has challenged Sheffield United to summon the spirit of last season’s march on Wembley when they return to FA Cup action against Crewe Alexandra tomorrow, writes James Shield.
But Clough, whose squad reached the semi-finals of the competition earlier this year, yesterday warned his players they will be marked men in this term’s tournament after blazing a trail to the capital seven months ago.
Speaking ahead of the first round tie at Gresty Road, Clough told The Star: “We’re probably the biggest name in the hat at the moment and, after what the players achieved last time around, everyone is going to be gunning for them. Everyone is going to want to claim our scalp because they know it’s going to make people stand-up and take notice.
“We all saw how getting that far re-energised this place. The effect it had on everyone and we want that all over again if at all possible.”
United dispatched Aston Villa, Fulham and Nottingham Forest en route to April’s meeting with Hull City where they twice led Steve Bruce’s top-flight side before eventually being beaten 5-3.
But Clough, who is still attempting to prise Steve Davies away from Blackpool despite seeing a proposed deal for the centre-forward collapse last month, said: “We only secured those big games, tasted those big atmospheres, because we got past teams like Colchester and Cambridge first. This is where it all starts, in matches like this, which might not be as glamorous but are no less important.
“They are the key to it all. We’d love to sample that all over again which is why we’ve got to go there and give everything we’ve got to try and win.”