Sheffield United manager Danny Wilson has called on the club’s supporters to get behind the team as they look to bounce back from being knocked off the League One summit.
Tuesday night’s goalless stalemate against Leyton Orient saw fans’ frustrations boil over during the game and the final whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos.
This for a team which had just collected 13 points from a possible 15, and, but for Kyle Bennett’s 90th-minute winner for Doncaster Rovers at Shrewsbury, would have stayed top of League One with a draw.
Afterwards, Wilson admitted the nerves – both in the stands and on the pitch – had not helped, and pleaded with fans to get behind the Blades in their final 12 games of the campaign.
“There’s a bit of nervousness about and I have to say when the fans start ‘oohing and aahing’ when we misplace a pass it puts the young lads under pressure,” he said. “Then they (players) stop wanting to do certain things.
“We just want encouragement. It’s not going to go right all the time, you can’t expect them (the fans) to come out and get completely behind us all the time no matter what happens. In an ideal world that’s what we do want.
“It’s difficult, but I think at times when the lads do have indecision, the last thing they want is for someone to jump on their back. It did happen (on Tuesday) in lots of areas.
“The fans want promotion, of course they do. We want promotion as well, but there’s certain things along the way where we might need a bit of help.
“If it’s giving us encouragement even if we aren’t playing as well as we can, that might be the little area we are looking for.
“It breeds anxiousness and that ebbs back to the stands. All of a sudden, indecision or not playing a pass people can see from the stands, it transfers back on to the pitch.
“We say the same thing when the fans get behind the lads on the pitch and it’s quite the same when it’s the opposite.”
United’s home form has dipped since Christmas. Since beating Scunthorpe United on Boxing Day, the Blades have won just once at Bramall Lane, against Colchester.
But their impressive away displays see them sat second in League One heading into Saturday’s trip to Oldham Athletic and Wilson is happy with their current points return despite Tuesday’s deadlock.
“You can pontificate that we didn’t do this or didn’t do the other, but we have just returned 13 points out of 15,” he said. “That’s a great return and if we do that in the next four or five games we will be more than happy.
“We always want to win our home matches so not doing so is always frustrating.
“We weren’t as fluent as we have been, but you must give Orient credit.
“They flooded the midfield and defence as you would expect and it was extremely difficult for us to break through.
“We weren’t as incisive as in previous matches, but when a team comes to sit back and play on the counter attack, it can often be tough.
“When we did get openings their goalkeeper made crucial saves and we also hit the woodwork.”
That came when Ryan Flynn struck the foot of a post in the second half, although the Blades were also indebted to in-form goalkeeper George Long who thwarted Shaun Batt in the first half before producing a stunning double stop after the break to deny Romain Vincelot and substitute David Mooney.
It was the fourth successive clean sheet for the Blades after keeping out Bury, Colchester and Bournemouth.
“We have kept four clean sheets on the bounce and George (Long) deserves a lot of credit for making two or three important saves at crucial times,” said Wilson.
“You only have to look at results elsewhere to see other teams at the top are also suffering the same frustration as we are.”
Groin strains are likely to mean Jamie Murphy and Jonathan Forte sit out this weekend’s trip to Boundary Park.
Wilson also revealed Mark Howard, who started the season as United’s No 1 goalkeeper, is struggling to overcome a thigh injury before the season’s end.
“I am not too sure what will happen with Mark. This thigh problem has gone on a hell of a long time now,” said Wilson.
“We expected him back well before now, but he keeps suffering these minor setbacks and we aren’t sure whether he will play again before the season finishes.”
Defender Lecsinel Jean-Francois should return to training in a fortnight after injury.
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