IF looks really could kill, Sheffield United might have been a few players short for today’s visit of promotion rivals Peterborough United.
Certainly, the response of the Blades players to Gary Liddle netting a late consolation for Bradford City in last Monday’s derby at Bramall Lane told its own story as fingers were pointed and harsh words exchanged.
“We were all furious to concede,” David Edgar, one of those involved as tempers boiled over, explained when speaking to The Yorkshire Post. “We were 3-0 up with 10 minutes to go but screaming at each other not to concede. We wanted to rip each other’s heads off when that goal went in. In a nice way, of course!
“No, seriously, I thought our reaction was great as it showed how we pride ourselves on defence. We were desperate not to concede and to keep a clean sheet. The game was more or less won and maybe some teams might not have got as wound up as we did.
“We have been putting in so much hard work on the training ground and everyone is pulling in the same direction. To me, it is a good sign when you are disappointed to lose one goal in a 3-1 victory. ”
Had the Blades been able to hold out against Bradford, it would have meant an impressive four clean sheets in as many games during December.
Considering the previous month had included that embarrassing collapse at home to Shrewsbury Town when a 1-0 lead turned into a 4-1 deficit courtesy of a crazy 23-minute spell either side of half-time, one goal conceded in six hours of football is impressive.
So, too, were results in the final month of 2015 as an FA Cup victory at home to Oldham Athletic that earned next week’s glamour trip to Manchester United in the third round was followed by three straight wins in the league.
Just a point separates the Blades from Peterborough United in the final play-off place. That Posh are due at Bramall Lane today adds extra spice to a contest in which both teams can lay down a marker in the race for not only the top six but automatic promotion as well.
For Edgar, the past month has been hugely enjoyable. Signed on loan for the season from Birmingham City in August, he has managed to nail down a regular starting place in his preferred position at the heart of the defence.
It is quite a contrast to last season, when a temporary switch to Huddersfield Town from St Andrews brought plenty of appearances but little continuity due to then manager Chris Powell seeing the Canadian as the ideal man to fill in when one of his first-choice XI was unavailable.
“At Huddersfield, it could be tough,” said Edgar about his time in West Yorkshire. “I had played every game at Birmingham until the new manager (Gary Rowett) came in (to replace Lee Clark).
“Luckily, he let me go out on loan to Huddersfield. But I was more a ‘utility Edgar’ at the club. I played all over the pitch. The manager was great with me and he knew I was doing a job for him, wherever needed.
“I still found it tough, though, as I wanted to nail down one position. That is the big difference here at Sheffield United, I have a bit of consistency.
“It is knowing that if you play well, you will be selected. Not that a chance might come if the right-back is injured. Then have a good game but the right-back gets fit again and you are out.
“That is what I have had a lot of during my career. It is nice to have some consistency. I have always said I will play anywhere but it is nice to have one position, as that can help your performances. Locking down one position is great.”
Judging by his recent appearances, Edgar is benefiting from the continuity alongside Neill Collins. Today, though, will bring a tough test against a Peterborough outfit who are League One’s top scorers with an impressive tally of 49 in 24 outings.
“Against Bradford, everything came together,” he added. “We’d won a couple of 1-0s in difficult conditions but Bradford saw us score three excellent goals.
“The spell after half-time was really enjoyable. Everyone wants to enjoy their football and we are no different. And we all enjoyed that performance and the three points.
“When we are playing like that and the crowd is right behind us, there is no better place to play. Now, it sets us up for what will be a big game against Peterborough.
“Things feel so different to just a few weeks ago. That Tuesday against Shrewsbury was a bad one. It is hard to get much lower than that. Things had to change.
“It was a difficult time for everyone at the club. I didn’t start but was still at the game and still part of the group. We came through it and galvanised ourselves, that was important.
“The manager made a few tweaks, that got us going again and the results have been decent since then. It was a confidence thing, as much as anything. You could see that against Bradford, when we played very well.
“The boys who have the shirts at the minute know there is great competition behind us so everyone has to play well or you could be out of the team. It is a good group.”
As for Edgar, he is solely focused on staying in the team and helping end United’s five-year stay in the third tier.
“I am loving it at Sheffield United,” said the loanee. “This is a great group with a great management. And right through to the people at the stadium, the people who work in the kitchens.
“Among the lads, there is not a bad egg amongst us. It is really enjoyable to come into work in a morning.”