Nigel Adkins has warned Sheffield United could be forced to endure “more pain” after vowing to take “tough decisions” in a bid to improve his team’s fortunes.
But Adkins, who last summer became the fifth person to take charge of the club since its relegation from the Championship in 2011, insisted his call for a long-term strategy to be put in place should not be interpreted as a sign United have “given-up” on this season.
“As a football club we have had eight managers in eight years, several years in League One, and maybe we now have to realise we are a League One club but we are a big football club,” Adkins said. “We have to get out of this and we have to build.
“We are going through some pain, at this moment in time, and maybe we are going to have go through a bit more pain. We had 46 players, just too big a squad, and we have to reduce that to a level which is manageable.
“We must make sure our recruitment is bang on, so the players we do bring in are the right ones to keep us moving forward. We need robust players who can play 40-plus games a season, because it’s demanding.
“But at this moment in time, we have to get out of this division straightaway, we have to win, win, win. Sometimes we look for the short-term fix, and maybe we have to look for long-term answer as well.”
Adkins, whose side is ninth ahead of tomorrow’s game against Port Vale, continued: “Let’s not dance around the houses, this is where we are, this is the reality, this is straight-talking. There’s a big desire behind the scenes to get the template right. To develop the players, play the way which is going to be right for this club long-term. Whether that’s me as the manager, or somebody else, Sheffield United need that blueprint in place.”
Adkins added: “If you have the stability, as a manager, you can make the tough decisions that need to be made. Sometimes you have to get through that period as you are building to where you want to be.
“That’s the way I see it, and you have to bold enough to come out and say that. We all know in football it’s a results-driven business, and if you lose six games on the spin, you normally expect a change in manager.
“But, eight managers in eight years here, maybe we need to have a bit of stability.”United could welcome back centre-half Neill Collins for the meeting with Vale after he missed Tuesday’s defeat by Bury with an ankle injury. Billy Sharp, the club’s leading goalscorer this season, is expected to start having appeared as a second-half substitute at Gigg Lane. Sharp has been receiving treatment for a foot complaint in recent weeks.
Adkins said: “I am not going to give up on this season. We are a handful of points off the play-off positions, the front two is beyond us now. We are fighting for the play-off positions, let’s make sure that we are still in there having a go right to the end. If we get there, we will have a momentum.”
“This is where we are,” Adkins added. “I have spoken to the owners this week, and from the owners down, everyone wants Sheffield United to do well. Everyone wants to see us back at the top level. That’s our common goal, but we are not there at this moment in time.
“The realisation is we are in mid-table in League One, we are fighting to get into the play-offs. But there’s a lot of things we have to do, and we have to work very hard to make that happen.”