Paul Heckingbottom concedes uncertainty hangs over Sheffield United’s next move

Paul Heckingbottom admits there is an uncertainty around Sheffield United at the moment, but the interim manager is adamant it is not affecting him.

Despite having been an adviser as the club’s hierarchy plot a future in next season’s Championship, he insists he will not step on his successor’s toes if he returns to coach the Under-23s.

The Blades have been without a permanent manager since parting ways with Chris Wilder in March. They announced last month they had a five-man shortlist and despite regular protestations that he expected to return to his role coaching the juniors, Heckingbottom was on it.

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Oostende’s Alexander Blessin is thought to be the preferred candidate, but the Blades would need to persuade the authorities to give him a work permit he does not qualify for. Recently there has been speculation the Blades had approached former Watford and Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic despite having not put him on the shortlist.

Paul Heckingbottom: Sheffield United’s interim manager on five-man shortlist for top job.Paul Heckingbottom: Sheffield United’s interim manager on five-man shortlist for top job.
Paul Heckingbottom: Sheffield United’s interim manager on five-man shortlist for top job.

Heckingbottom admits the talk is unhelpful, but says everyone must block it out ahead of tomorrow’s Premier League trip to Everton.

“For me personally it’s no problem,” he insisted. “Players, staff, they’re going to talk.

“Everyone wants to know who the new manager is, what type of football he’s going to play, what staff he’ll bring in, but you have to try and put it out of your mind. It’s easier said than done.

“It does bring with it uncertainty while I wish it didn’t.”

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Heckingbottom says his interim role has made it almost impossible to bring about change, but having got the ear of the club’s bosses he will not interfere if he is not the next manager.

“When you’re doing things temporarily it’s different, it’s a bit like babysitting,” he argued.

“To change the environment, which drives results, you have to be in a position to do that. If you’re temporary you can’t. You can pick a team but that’s probably the only thing you can do.”

On what influence he would have if he returned to the Under-23s, he added: “I’ll help out any way I can so long as it doesn’t affect what I’m paid to do. If people start working outside their pay grade or role spec, things go wrong, so I’ve no intention of stepping on anyone’s toes.

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“It shouldn’t be about an ego or getting your name in lights, it should be about people doing a good job, being selfless and working for the team and the club.”

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