If there was one surprise result of the opening day weekend it came at the Priestfield Stadium.
Nigel Adkins’s Sheffield United – tipped as promotion favourites in League One – were thrashed 4-0 by Gillingham.
Not only was it a shock to the hundreds of loyal travelling Blades supporters, and those watching from afar, but to the players themselves.
They restored some credibility with a 1-0 midweek win at Morecambe in the Capital One Cup, but the spotlight will be on United today as they host Chesterfield in their first game of the season at Bramall Lane.
It will be the first competitive home match for Adkins and United’s summer arrivals, like striker Conor Sammon.
The 28-year-old – who netted three times on loan at Rotherham United last season – is keen to make amends for that opening day blip.
“We are hurting ourselves,” admitted the on-loan Derby County striker. “And we’re looking to put that in to the performance against Chesterfield.
“The manager is always very positive and I’m a positive person myself. We want to set down a marker for our home form.
“I got a taste of it against Newcastle (in pre-season) but this is the first league game for me in front of the fans.
“I’ve heard a lot about how passionate the fans are, a lot of the lads have been telling me.
“So we want to get them behind us and put on a good positive performance.
“After Gillingham, we’re looking to bounce back and do the business.
“I’m a great believer in the fact that you’re only as good as your last game.
“The fans were disappointed after making such a long trip down and, as a football fan myself, I know how you go into the first one full of excitement and positivity.
“It didn’t happen for us but we’re looking to get some momentum going and show the fans it was an off day.
“I can’t put my finger on what happened at Gillingham. Pre-season went well in terms of results and style of performance.
“It’s hard to identify why but we didn’t do the things we would normally do. We’ve got to learn from that and move on. Improve and bounce back.
“We’re lucky in football that there’s always another game, especially in this league, just around the corner so you don’t get time to dwell on a defeat or even a win.
“We came in on Monday and discussed it internally. Then we drew a line under it and prepared for the next game.
“It was a hard-fought victory against Morecambe who, I thought, played very well on the day.”
Dublin-born Sammon – along with fellow new recruit Billy Sharp – will hope they can provide the added goals to end United’s extended stay in League One.
But the Republic of Ireland international says “talk is cheap” and hopes the Blades can make a statement on the pitch against their neighbours, Chesterfield, this afternoon.
“You have ups and down in football, like you do in life,” he said.
“You have times when you are tested but there’s a saying: ‘Tough times don’t last but tough people do.’ I like that, it’s a good attitude to have.
“We’ve got a good core here. A good mix of experience and younger lads looking to build their careers.
“We’ve got lots of talent and lots of goals in this team. So, if we have that toughness, it will only add to us.
“But talk is cheap. We’ve got to do the business and play how we can. Give Chesterfield lots of problems.
“We want every team who plays against us to think: ‘Jeez, I didn’t enjoy any of that’.”
A common theme in both of both of United’s performances this term, are the number of chances created.
That is something manager Adkins hopes to build on in the coming weeks, as his new signings integrate with the rest of the squad.
“We have got a lot of attack-minded players, and early in the campaign, people have still got to gel little bit,” he said.
“We are creating, but we have to put the ball in the back of the net.
“The strikers we have got here, we know can score goals. That’s a big thing, we are not just reliant on one player, we have got several.
“It’s important we go and dominate the game, but the opposition have a big say in that. We have to be mindful and respectful of that.
“Saturday is a prime example on what a tough game this will be.”
Adkins believes the Blades fans can play a key role in producing an electric atmosphere inside Bramall Lane, which can intimidate opposition teams.
“We want to win, be exciting, win games of football and we need the supporters to get right behind the lads. I can see they are going to,” he said.
“We all have a common goal, to be successful. To do that, if you support the lads, get behind them, come the final whistle it’s football.
“You will either applaud, or vent your anger. But that support is important.
“We all want Sheffield United to get promoted this season, and get promoted as soon as we can out of the next one to the big league.
“But we are a long way for that, at the moment, and we all know that.
“It’s a work in progress and it’s one stage at a time. If everyone keeps working hard for each other, we will give ourselves that opportunity.”