Jamal Campbell-Ryce, the Sheffield United winger, last night insisted every member of Nigel Adkins’ first team squad must take responsibility for the “crap goals” which have stalled its push for Championship football.
But the former Jamaica international, who admitted he “fancies himself against any full-back in the division” refuted claims that United do not possess the quality required to secure a top two finish by insisting there is “no doubt” they will be challenging for promotion towards the season.
Adkins side visit Crewe Alexandra this weekend hoping to avoid a second successive defeat after being beaten by 2-1 Millwall four days ago.
Despite echoing his manager’s sentiments that both of the Londoners’ efforts should have been ruled-out for fouls, Campbell-Ryce said: “We need to be more mature defensively, not just defenders, but as a team. We have got to know we can’t switch off, stay switched on, even when we are attacking. The second goal, we could have done better all over the park. It’s just fine tuning.
The manager came in upset, because he knew it was three points lost. We played so well, controlled the game from start to finish. It’s just so frustrating because it’s two poor goals, two crap goals really, we have given away.”
Campbell-Ryce has impressed since returning to the starting eleven following injury and vowed to channel his frustration into another swashbuckling performance at Gresty Road.
“We all know how I play - the fans know how I play - and I fancy myself against any full-back in the division, when I am on my day,” Campbell-Ryce continued. “We beat Fleetwood 3-0 before facing Millwall, yet we didn’t play as well then as we did on Saturday. That’s football, you don’t play well and you win, you play well and you don’t. Which one do you want? We are disappointed, but we can’t sulk and be down for too long.”
“When you are a player like myself - it’s different if you are a central midfielder, where you don’t want to get caught in possession - the manager encourages me to attack,” Campbell-Ryce added. “He tells me to run down their throat. It gives me confidence to do my bit. In this division I fancy myself against anyone in this league. If I am on my game, am given the ball, then I do have an end product to strip the defender, get a cross or shot off. Hopefully that can continue and I thank the manager for putting that confidence in me.”
United travel to Cheshire having lost only three of the 11 fixtures Campbell-Ryce has appeared in so far this term, six points behind early leaders Gillingham and averaging 1.6 per game. They trailed eventual champions Bristol City by 10 points at the same stage last season. Adkins, who recently signed Dean Hammond on emergency loan from Leicester City, mounted a spirited defence of his players in the wake of the fierce criticism which followed the loss to Neil Harris’ side.
“We’re not a million miles away,” Campbell-Ryce said. “We all know how we want to play, play gorgeous football, but we have to do the other side first, the nasty stuff.
“There’s an unbelievable amount of football and talent here. Not just in the team that started on Saturday, through the squad. The injured boys, those who aren’t even in the squad, the boys on the bench. We have a fantastic squad, so hopefully we can all work together and get better.”