Gillingham v Sheffield United: Cup exit leaves Blades eager for league tonic

Nigel Clough
Nigel Clough
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AS Preston North End fans this week queued around the block to guarantee their place at the upcoming glamour FA Cup tie at home to Manchester United, Sheffield United have been left to lick their wounds.

Tuesday’s defeat to the Lancashire club cost the Blades not only a welcome payday but also the chance to take on one of world football’s giants under the lights at Bramall Lane.

For Michael Doyle, who has twice helped knock United out of Cup competitions at Old Trafford in his career, the disappointment at missing out on the chance to go toe-to-toe with Louis van Gaal’s men lingered for a couple of days.

Now, though, the United captain has his focus trained on what, amid all the FA and League Cup heroics, has always been the season’s No 1 priority – clinching promotion back to the Championship at the fourth attempt.

Doyle said: “To lose like we did against Preston was disappointing. After going ahead, I thought we could have stepped it up. But we were lacklustre after half-time and made some bad mistakes.

“We were also out-worked and out-fought, which isn’t us. We went out with a bit of a whimper.

“The league is what we have left now and that was always our priority at the start of the season.

“What we faced against Preston will be pretty similar to what we face at Gillingham.

“They are a team that is effective and direct. That is what we will have to stand up against.

“We didn’t against Preston and went through the motions a bit, where the opposition had the bit between their teeth.

“We didn’t have that and it was disappointing. The manager summed it up well afterwards; he said we’d played like it was a pre-season game. He hit the nail on the head with that.”