Nigel Adkins has warned Sheffield United that failing to show respect for League One football will derail the club’s bid for promotion, writes James Shield.
The 50-year-old, who takes charge of his first competitive game since being appointed at Gillingham this weekend, issued the threat after acknowledging rival teams, including Saturday’s opponents, will be desperate to prevent United reaching the Championship.
United were beaten by the likes of Crewe Alexandra, Fleetwood Town and Yeovil en route to the play-off semi-finals last term.
Adkins, who has researched events both on and off the pitch throughout the previous campaign, said: “I have experienced both sides of the coin with Southampton and Scunthorpe.
“But, the bottom line, is I am very, very respectful of the league. Every team we play again has to be respected.
“We have no given right to do anything. We have to earn that right to play.
“I would like to think the attitude our players have shown so far shows we will give ourselves the opportunity to earn that right.”
Adkins achieved promotion from the third tier at both Glanford Park and St Mary’s. United are preparing to embark upon their fifth season in League One.
“I am not going to hide away from how desperate we are to get up,” he said. “Fortunately, I have been in this position before.
“I was at a big football club in exactly the same situation so I would like to think that I can draw on that experience.
“Everyone can draw on it, in fact. Because we all share the same goal. We all want to go up and we want to do it this season.
“There will be days when things don’t go our way and that is when we will need to stick together as a football club.
“What we won’t do as a group is get too high when we win and too low when we lose. We will keep a consistency about ourselves and I like to think we will be in a position come the end to get ourselves out of this division.”
Jamal Campbell-Ryce, Matt Done, Paul Coutts, Terry Kennedy, Harrison McGahey and Ryan Flynn are all expected to miss the visit to Kent. However, Adkins’ disappointment at United’s casualty list has been tempered by the availability of new signings Martyn Woolford, Conor Sammon and Billy Sharp.
“We can’t just do it with 11 players,” Adkins said. “We have to do it as a club and positivity is going to be key. We have to support each other if things don’t go our way.”