Crewe v Sheffield Utd: Collins embracing pressure of Blades’ exalted reputation

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Neill Collins expects basement side Crewe Alexandra to step it up when they face Sheffield United today, a symptom of the Blades’ position as one of the bigger clubs in League One.

The Blades have won only five of their last 10 games, and currently sit sixth in the table, four points off second place. Manager Nigel Adkins admitted on Thursday that he wants to win the league, and the level of expectancy is clear for Collins.

However, he also believes that thriving under such pressure is part and parcel of being a footballer. Collins said: “You can watch Crewe play Colchester, for instance. Don’t think Crewe will be anything like that when they play Sheffield United because their mindset will be different.

“We’ve done it ourselves in the cup runs. You change your mindset because it’s a bigger team you’re playing.

“We’ve got to be guarded and aware of that.

“I’ve played for some big clubs, and I understand the pressure that comes with it, but it’s about embracing it.

“Being at a smaller club, yes you can just turn up every week.If there’s a draw the fans will be okay with it. It makes it so much better when you get it right at a big club. I can put up with the frustration at a big club when it’s not going well.

“We want to be flying high at the top of the league with everyone behind us because there’ll not be a sight like it in the league with the stadium rocking.

“That’s what our aim is, that’s what every player wants to be a part of, and if you don’t then you shouldn’t be in the game.”

When asked about the difficulty of opposition performing far better against United than the rest of the division, Adkins agreed with Collins, telling The Yorkshire Post: “We speak to all the managers after the game, and they say, ‘it’s the best we’ve played this season’.”

A 3-0 loss to Crewe in February 2014 was the inspiration for a 10-game winning streak.

Collins believes the side have the potential to put together a consistent run, should Adkins be able to select the same team consistently.

Collins said: “We could definitely get a run together. One thing you’d have to say is after the Crewe game, we had continuity.

“Myself and Harry Maguire played all the time, Michael Doyle in front of us, John Brayford on the right. Certain positions picked themselves, and I’m sure the manager will want to get into a position where the team is picking itself.”