Paul Heckingbotton to put Sheffield United players through trial by video

JUST six games into his tenure at Sheffield United, Paul Heckingbottom resisted the urge to give his players the full hair-dryer treatment after their late implosion at Preston.
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Heckingbottom’s dissatisfaction was clear to see after watching his side surrender a two-goal advantage in a 2-2 draw at Deepdale against opponents who were down to 10 men after 39 minutes.

Yet while there was understandable emotion in the visiting dressing room after the game, the Blades chief elected to keep his powder dry a little ahead of an evidence-based debrief in the video room into what specifically went wrong.

Now hear this: Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom speaks to Billy Sharp during the Championship match at Deepdale, Preston.Now hear this: Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom speaks to Billy Sharp during the Championship match at Deepdale, Preston.
Now hear this: Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom speaks to Billy Sharp during the Championship match at Deepdale, Preston.
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Heckingbottom insists United’s capitulation was not about complacency, more deficiencies in game management in key junctures.

He said: “Football is an emotional game and I love the job and it’s got to hurt. You can use emotions and it is part of it and no-one is happy about that. I had to rein it in a little bit and I don’t want to take away what was good about it (first 70 minutes).

“I said some things, which is fine. But most of the time, it is better to follow things up when you have evidence and can be constructive. But there’s nothing wrong with showing emotion and getting key points across because it matters.”

Two concessions in the second half at Preston took United’s number of goals conceded in the second half of league matches this season to 23.

Sheffield United's Billy Sharp appears dejected after the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston. (Picture: PA)Sheffield United's Billy Sharp appears dejected after the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston. (Picture: PA)
Sheffield United's Billy Sharp appears dejected after the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston. (Picture: PA)
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Just Reading, Peterborough and Cardiff have let in more Championship goals after the break than United.

Heckingbottom, whose side welcome Luton on Saturday, added: “It is something we will look into, but the circumstances (of Tuesday) make it feel worse. It is about managing and seeing the game out and not undoing a good performance until that point.

“I don’t think it would have happened if they (Preston) had 11 and there would have been a different mentality. We spoke about complacency, but I thought we started the second half very well again and had chances.

“I was really pleased with the performance for so long, which is what you want to see. But the result takes the shine off it.

Sheffield United's John Egan and Preston North End's Alan Browne (right) battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)Sheffield United's John Egan and Preston North End's Alan Browne (right) battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)
Sheffield United's John Egan and Preston North End's Alan Browne (right) battle for the ball during the Sky Bet Championship match at Deepdale, Preston. (Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire)
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“There were key things with key players to manage situations. I am learning about the players all the time; they are learning about me and I am learning about them.

“Everyone is sick in there, of course. You look at Fulham and how we defended there, but it was a totally different situation and here against 10 men, we were pressing a lot of the time and didn’t need to and making decisions and overlaps when we don’t need to.”

Meanwhile, Heckingbottom is focusing on bringing in another senior goalkeeper following Robin Olsen’s return to parent club AS Roma and transfer switch to Aston Villa.

But the Blades chief has stressed that any newcomer will play second fiddle, initially, to in-form Wes Foderingham, who was excellent at Preston and must earn the right to claim first-team duties.

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Heckingbottom continued: “There’s lots of goalkeepers out there and I could get one like that.

“But, personally, I want one with experience at this level, which is key. We have Easty (Jake Eastwood), who has been great since I have come into the building and it is credit to Wes with Robin moving on.

“I’d have kept him, but the position became really difficult. He’s not our player and there was pressure from Roma and there was a player who did not want to be here any more. But we need another goalkeeper.

“It is Wes’s shirt at the minute and whoever comes in will have to realise they have to get past Wes.”

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