NIGEL CLOUGH spent so long pursuing Steven Davies earlier this season that the Sheffield United manager must have wondered if he would ever get his man.
Perseverance paid off, however, and after the starring role played by the on-loan striker in Tuesday’s morale-boosting win over Scunthorpe United, the Blades chief admits he could not be more pleased.
“I thought Steven Davies was excellent against Scunthorpe,” said Clough of the Blackpool loanee after his side moved six points clear of seventh-placed Barnsley in the race for the play-offs courtesy of the 4-0 win over Mark Robins’s men.
“He didn’t get a goal but I wasn’t bothered that he didn’t score. His all-round game was crucial to how we played.
“The way he held the ball up was excellent and he also gives us an option out wide. If we are going to play the way that we are, you need a focal point up front.
“When Chris O’Grady was here for a month, he provided it. And now Steven Davies has provided it.
“I felt we had a better balance, with (Ryan) Flynn on the right and (Jamie) Murphy on the left.
“They didn’t just stay out there, either. Flynny won a penalty coming inside and his movement was excellent.
“The rotation of the five across the middle was very good. That is what I mean when I say I felt there was a good balance to how we played and I sensed the players enjoyed it.”
The 4-0 hammering of Scunthorpe United means that a week manager Clough billed as “the most important of the season” has so far yielded them six points from two home games.
Saturday will bring another outing at Bramall Lane against Crewe Alexandra and another victory will surely send the Blades into Easter with one foot already in the play-offs.
Not that Clough will necessarily agree with so many points still up for grabs during the final month of the campaign.
“We are still not secure in the top six but we have a cushion now,” he said. “Results are everything at this stage but to have a nice performance to go with it is great.
“That is what we most took out (of Tuesday). Our confidence will have been boosted. It is also nice to get into the 60s, in terms of points. We spent too long in the 50s.
“We did the same in the 30s early in the season but now I think the confidence will be up going into Saturday.
“Saturday was a bit edgy (when United beat Port Vale 1-0) and nervous so it was nice for the lads – and the supporters – to enjoy it.
“We have been preaching all season for them to do what they did against Scunthorpe. Sometimes it comes off, sometimes it doesn’t. But that is how we want to play.
“Right from the first 10 minutes of the game, I thought we were impressive all over the pitch.
“The movement was good and the work-rate was as good as it always is. I thought we played well at times early in the season but, in terms of getting our rewards, that was right up there.
“Hopefully, things are just gelling and the new players coming in are starting to settle.”
United were without Mark Howard due to the back injury that kept the goalkeeper out for nine games recently.
His fitness will be assessed ahead of Crewe’s visit this weekend.