Nigel Adkins once described how reciting Dale Wimbrow’s poem ‘The Guy in the Glass’ helped him cope with the stress of football management.
Such techniques, of course, are only possible to employ behind closed doors. So tomorrow, when quick-thinking could be required to change the course of his team’s League One fixture at Port Vale, how will the Sheffield United manager retain his focus?
“Experience is the biggest help,” Adkins said. “The repetition of experiences, having been in the same situation a number of times before. There’s always a lot going on during games but it’s important, although you can’t avoid being sucked in to a degree, that you keep some sort of mental distance because there will be calls to make.”
Adkins wants United’s players, who remained sixth in the table following Tuesday evening’s goalless draw with leaders Burton Albion, to strike the same psychological balance when they face Robert Page’s much-improved side. His message is especially pertinent for Chris Basham who enters the fixture knowing that receiving a caution will trigger an automatic suspension although, with the visitors set to face Notts County in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy next week, conspiracy theories will abound if the midfielder does feature and collects a yellow card.
“You want passionate players, we are all extremely passionate about our football, including myself,” Adkins said. “And that’s good because there’s a collective spirit.
“We all want and are working towards the same thing. There’s a real camaraderie which is good to see and gives us the platform to move forward through the season.”