The Blades’ demotion from the PremIer League was sealed the previous weekend when they lost at Wolverhampton Wanderers, though Saturday evening saw them bounce back with a long overdue victory against Brighton & Hove Albion.
Interim manager Paul Heckingbottom saw enough in his team’s display during that 1-0 success - the club’s first in seven matches - to convince him that his charges will continue to give their all over the course of the next four weeks, despite having nothing to play for.
“The performance of everybody who stepped on the pitch gave the fans the knowledge that the players are still proud to pull on the shirt,” he said.
“They are desperate to still be in the Premier League, even though that can’t be possible, but hopefully people can see the intent and the desire to get back here.
“The players have answered the horrible questions we have been asked this week about ‘are you still going to play your part and give everything to keep the league honest?’
“You don’t want to be asked questions like that, it’s not been nice and we’ve sort of used that as motivation, if I’m honest, because I don’t think that can ever be levelled at these players.
“We’re going to give everything in every game, everything when we prepare for games.”
Saturday’s victory was the Blades’ first since March 3 against Aston Villa - another occasion which was decided by David McGoldrick netting the only goal - and also Heckingbottom’s first since taking over from Chris Wilder.
Having had a taste of top-flight success and seen what is required to achieve one, the interim United chief is hungry for more.
“We know how tough it is, we know tough it is to get wins. That’s five, we’d love to get six, seven, eight, as many as we can,” he added.
“But, we know it’s tough and we’ve got to give performances like that (against Brighton) if we are to stand a chance.”
Saturday’s triumph was United’s fifth in 33 Premier League this term. It takes them on to 17 points for the campaign, but they remain seven behind 19th-placed West Bromwich Albion.