Nigel Adkins’ mood had calmed when he sat down to address the media at the Steelphalt Academy yesterday.
But, 48 hours after his team’s “unacceptable” performance against Shrewsbury Town, the Sheffield United left no room for doubt about what he expects to see when it visits Barnsley tomorrow.
“Maybe that was the lowest ebb,” Adkins said. “Maybe this is the opportunity to turn things around.
“If everyone sticks together and commits to the team then we can do it. If you ask yourself what can I do for the team? What can I do for the football club? If we strain every sinew then I know it, I guarantee it, then the supporters will be right behind us.”
“You’ve got to win your one on one duels,” Adkins added. “Physically out-run and out-pass your opposite number. You need that energy, passion and desire to respond. To be the one that sets the example, not wait for someone else to do it.”
Adkins had spoken of “consequences” on Tuesday evening as he sifted through the debris of a defeat which left United, the pre-season promotion favourites, languishing in 12th place. Although he refused to elaborate on his plans for the meeting with Lee Johnson’s side - “You’ll have to wait and see” - repercussions could include a reshuffle of United’s defence and midfield with Matt Done and Jamal Campbell-Ryce, two former Barnsley wingers, among those hoping for recalls while John Brayford could return.
“When they cross that white line, we want them to feel 10 feet tall,” Adkins said. “And that’s what we’ll be trying to do. Team selection and tactics have been reflected upon because we can’t keep doing what we are doing but I’ve got to be supportive of the players we’ve got.”