THREE months on from launching his reign as Sheffield United manager with a win over Crewe Alexandra, Nigel Clough’s side today face the same opposition.
There is, though, no time for the Blades’ chief to take stock as the harsh reality of a League One relegation fight means every point is precious.
With United’s next two fixtures being against fellow strugglers – Shrewsbury Town are due to Bramall Lane a week today – Clough knows the focus has to be on the fight for survival.
He said: “We have a chance in these next two games to do something about it. They are as important as any this season in terms of getting us out of that bottom four.
“Usually, the type of run we have been on would be enough to get us clear.
“The only thing we have not done is maximise our performances against the likes of Stevenage and Bradford to get the points.
“Everyone is a little squeezed together because they pick up unexpected results. What it does mean, though, is if you can get one or two wins then you can get up towards halfway.”
When pressed on the biggest change since beating Crewe at the Lane in his first game on October 26, Clough added: “The main thing we have improved is our attacking play.
“It won’t always come off, and anyone can launch it back to front. But we try to play it through midfield and that takes some patience.”
The postponement of Wednesday night’s home game against Peterborough means United still sit in the relegation zone, but have two games in hand on fifth-bottom Crewe.
Games in hand, of course, mean little compared to points in the bag and with an FA Cup fourth-round replay coming up on Tuesday night against Fulham, United are desperate to avoid further postponements as that could mean a serious fixture backlog.
With that in mind, the heavy rain that was forecast overnight in Cheshire could prove untimely.
Clough said: “The way Crewe like to play and the way we try to play, it could be difficult in the conditions. A lot of rain is forecast, so we will have to see.
“It may not be like an early season game, played on a terrific pitch. The main thing, though, is that we want the game on and so do Crewe.”