Sheffield United: Nigel lays down the law

Nigel Clough has told his players to stay in control at Chesterfield tomorrow � copyright : Blades Sports Photography
Nigel Clough has told his players to stay in control at Chesterfield tomorrow � copyright : Blades Sports Photography

It will be fast, frantic, furious and, at times, see players test the patience of both match officials and their managers alike, writes James Shield.

But when his Sheffield United side contest tomorrow’s derby against Chesterfield, Nigel Clough has urged them to stay within the boundaries of the law.

“You’ve got to be ready to battle every single game,” Clough said. “All the best teams have that quality and, when the time is right, they also keep themselves focused and switched on too.

“All we expect from the lads is good honest endeavour. But that doesn’t mean to say you have to go out there kicking people because, and this is perfectly obvious, you want to keep your full compliment out there on the pitch.”

Clough has stressed the importance of developing a ruthless streak on countless occasions this season. But, speaking ahead of their meeting at the Proact Stadium, the former England international insisted that should not be interpreted as a license to lose control.

Clough’s decision to stress the importance of good discipline appears to be having an effect with United collecting 15 cautions during the opening 12 matches of the present campaign compared to 17 and a red at the same stage last term.

“We’re at our best when we’re tackling and closing down,” he said. “And, yes, there are times when you get the chance to take the ball fairly and also give your opponent a bit of a whack.

“James Wallace had one of those at Leyton Orient in the (Capital One) cup recently. It was a fair tackle, right in front of the dug-outs and everyone heard it, but it really set the tone for everyone else to follow.

“When we’ve got that element of aggression, proper aggression, that’s when we are at our best because we’ll always back the ability of the lads to come through.

“But you won’t achieve anything unless that aspect of your game is there. The very best teams, and the very best players for that matter, are always able to combine both.”

*Twitter: @JamesShield1