AFTER a haul of four goals in two matches against a couple of former employers this week, it would perhaps be easy to pinpoint the source of Leon Clarke’s prime motivation.
But speak to the Sheffield United striker and he is quick to stress that is not actually the story at all.
Clarke would not be human if he did not derive understandable pleasure from following up a brace in Sunday’s televised Steel City derby at Hillsborough with another double against home-town club Wolves on Wednesday.
Yet his driving force is nothing to do with score-settling with two of his old clubs – but everything to do with proving a wider point.
Given a nomadic career that has seen the 32-year-old appear for 16 different clubs, the occasion of scoring against a former team probably holds limited appeal – even if some moments are more special than others.
What Clarke admits to being truly pumped up by is a desire to show he can do the business in the Championship with that outweighing any personal kudos from his scoring efforts this week.
Clarke, whose goals have represented his first at this level since February, 2015, quipped: “When you have had as many teams as I have, when you score, it is always against another former team.”
As for his scintillating week, he added: “I am really happy with it and for me, every time I go out on the pitch, it is a chance to impress and show up a few people who maybe don’t think I can play at this level.
“I am very settled here – probably the most settled I have been in a long, long time.
“I enjoy coming into work and it is one of the best set of lads I have worked with throughout my career, and I have been at a lot of teams, played with a lot of players and been with a lot of different squads.”
Proof of the Championship’s egalitarian nature is illustrated by the sight of the Blades – whose summer transfer outlay was little over £3m – lieing in second place ahead of the likes of Wolves and Middlesbrough, who have spent tens of millions of pounds in their pursuit of success.
A Wolves side whose starting line-up contained two players who were purchased for fees of £15.8m and £13.5m, respectively, in Ruben Neves and Helder Costa, may have possessed stardust in midweek, but the Blades proved to be no respecters of reputations in a 2-0 win.
Do not expect them to be so in the future either, with the Blades in thrall to no one, according to Clarke.
He added: “Some of the teams in the Championship have spent a lot of money.
“When the teamsheets come out and you look at some of the players they have bought, you think, ‘This is going to be a tough day.’
“But we are not scared of anybody. We know we can hurt people with the way we play, with our shape, enthusiasm and drive; we know we can get results.
“The manager lets us know in no uncertain terms that we should not be scared of anybody or this league. I think that is showing.”
The Blades’ side may have a distinct absence of stellar names or recruits, but they do possess one special talent in new Wales call-up David Brooks, with Clarke believing that the sky is the limit for the precocious youngster who has burst onto the scene.
He said: “Brooko is a really good player. He has got the world at his feet.
“He can go as far in the game as he wants to if he listens to the management and staff and takes on people’s advice.”