PLAYER power could help John Carver land the Sheffield United manager's job on a full-time basis.
Carver, who will stay in charge of first-team affairs for a minimum of three more games, opened his caretaker reign with victory over Swansea City six days ago.
Speaking ahead of the Boxing Day clash with Hull City, Carver pointed to Chris Hughton's success at Newcastle United as an example of what a good caretaker can do.
First-team coach Hughton was initially viewed as a stop-gap appointment by the Magpies in summer 2009 following relegation from the Premier League. However, the former Tottenham Hotspur defender quickly won over the club's players and supporters and was given the job full-time before leading the club to the Championship title.
"We have all seen what can happen if a guy comes in as a caretaker manager and gets the job on a permanent basis," said Carver.
"You only have to cast your mind back to Chris Hughton's situation at Newcastle. He had the players right behind him and they supported what he was trying to do and why.
"It's nice to know that the players are backing me," he added. "I sense their support on the training ground – but I also think they enjoyed the work I put in front of them even before I was manager. I am going to stay focused."
Carver was on the Blades coaching staff just three months when manager Gary Speed announced that he was quitting to become the new manager of Wales.
Winger Mark Yeates added his voice to calls for Carver's permanent appointment saying: "We are right behind him but it is down to the people upstairs to make the decision not the players.
"Stability is vitally important and 'JC' was the gaffer's assistant so nothing has really changed. His coaching and his sessions have been top notch since he came to the club. The lads know him inside out and we all enjoy working with him. If you watched our training sessions and how the lads are with 'JC' I don't think anyone would have an issue if he took over. He is a top coach and I am sure, if you asked most of the lads in the dressing room, they wouldn't have a problem at all with him being in charge."
Carver still has serious competition for the job with Phil Brown, Paul Hart, and Chris Coleman leading the applications from out-of-work managers.
Doncaster Rovers manager Sean O'Driscoll also remains high on the Blades' shortlist – despite attempts to distance himself from speculation yesterday afternoon.
Victory over Swansea lifted the Blades four points clear of the relegation zone and made it three wins out of five.
With four games in the space of just nine days over the festive and New Year period, there is now an ideal opportunity for the club to make progress in a short space of time.
The Blades recorded a 1-0 victory at Hull in October with Yeates scoring the winner. He believes the next few games could be pivotal in shaping the direction of the season.
"It's tight in the table and we need to start picking up wins," he said. "Hopefully, if we can come out of the Christmas period with enough points we will be looking up the table not down. We all know that this period is important. It can shape our season. On our day, we can give anyone a game in this league. We have proved that against big sides in the league like Cardiff and Swansea but it's also about beating the teams around you."
Four years ago, Yeates played seven times on loan for the Tigers but was jeered by the club's supporters on his return for the game in October.
Inevitably, he was unable to hide his satisfaction when scoring and his reaction that night may not have been forgotten.
"Scoring against them was a nice feeling but that's all in the past," he insisted.
"And what happened at Hull four years ago doesn't really bother me."