Video - Sheffield United v Peterborough United: Mark Duffy relishing free role as Blades aim high

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Sheffield United may have had a slow start to life under Chris Wilder in League One, but it did not come as a complete shock to Mark Duffy.

The 30-year-old summer signing from Burton Albion was part of an influx of signings by new Blades boss Wilder as he overhauled the Bramall Lane playing staff.

Sheffield United's Mark Duffy scoring his side's opening goal against Wimbledon. Picture:  David Klein/Sportimage

Sheffield United's Mark Duffy scoring his side's opening goal against Wimbledon. Picture: David Klein/Sportimage

Against AFC Wimbledon last weekend, there were 11 new signings – 12 if you include promoted Academy goalkeeper A Ramsale – in the match-day 18.

Duffy believes the new-look Blades – who failed to win in their first five games – have taken time to adjust to life at Bramall Lane.

But three successive League One wins has been just reward for Wilder’s hard graft on the training ground and United are now looking up.

“I am really enjoying it here,” Duffy told The Yorkshire Post. “Obviously the start wasn’t what we wanted, we had a difficult two weeks, but getting that first win relaxed everyone.

Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder

“We have picked up results recently and that’s what it’s all about. The gaffer is really pleased and so are the boys.

“There was a nervous couple of weeks, we were playing well, just not getting the results we thought we deserved.

“We have a whole new squad really, an entire new team that’s playing, and it takes time. But at the same time, we didn’t want the leaders to get too far away, because that’s where we want to be.

“We (like the fans) get frustrated, because we see the good work we do on the training ground.

“Everyone can see the quality we have in the squad. We were doing it in large parts of the games, just not converting our chances.

“We were making a few silly mistakes, which were costing us.

“The longer it went on, the more nervous people got. We were all glad to getting that first win.

“It’s just been down to gelling together. You start to create bonds with other players.

“Matt Done stretches the play, and for me that’s helped the team, the players who come inside in the pockets. It’s just finding the relationship with other players.”

Duffy – who has been pushed forward from his winger’s role into a No 10 role – netted against Wimbledon to open his Blades account, and knows goals will help him retain the jersey with strong competition for starting places.

“It’s been a while since I had scored, a few games, and I thought I should have scored a few more,” said the former Doncaster Rovers midfielder. “Hopefully, I can get a few more, starting Saturday.

“The squad is really strong. We have got a few wingers, more than enough strikers, and loads of defenders.

“There is competition for places everywhere and the starting XI, the gaffer has made it clear, you have got to stay on top of your game, keep on your toes.

“We have changed formation a little bit, and I think that will help us at home. We can dominate the ball even more.

“This (no 10 role) is where I played quite a lot of my football for Burton last year.

“It’s a flexible formation, I can drop back into midfield, play higher up, like Saturday where it was more like three up front.

“It’s a formation the gaffer and Alan (Knill) seem really happy with at the moment.

“There’s quality on the bench if I am not doing it. (Stefan) Scougall is on the bench, at the moment, but came on and did really well at Millwall.

“The likes of Harry Chapman, too, there’s a lot of competition for places.

“At Burton last year, they played me there and I enjoy it.

“You have a freedom to go around the pitch, get on the ball, dominate it.

“But you also have a responsibility to stop their midfield from playing.

“You have to think your way through a game, you are not just an attacker.

“At Gillingham, one of their strengths was their holding midfielder, who likes to dominate the ball.

“The gaffer wanted me to get to him and make sure he didn’t have time on the ball. That’s one of the main tactics of my game, so he doesn’t have the time and space to hurt us.”

Despite that poor start – which saw defeats at Bolton and Millwall – United are just a point off today’s visitors Peterborough, who occupy sixth spot.

“We have played Bolton and Millwall, they are up there, and I thought we dominated the games,” said Duffy.

“If we could have picked up a few points in those games, we would have been closer to them at the top.

“We are at a massive club, and we all know the aim, we want to get out of this league.

“It comes from the top, the gaffer makes sure we target wins, and the players have to be demanding of ourselves. If people aren’t doing it, they need to be told.

“We all have the same goal, which is to get out of this league,” he added.