Sheffield United's Paul Heckingbottom on the part Stuart McCall, Jack Lester and Mark Hudson play in motivating the motivator

Paul Heckingbottom says it is his Sheffield United coaching staff he relies on most to cope with the pain of defeat.

The Blades have had it rather too often this season, bottom of the Premier League after nine losses in their first 10 matches.

But it is vital manager Heckingbottom keeps morale up in a situation which looks very hard to turn around. He cannot do it alone, turning to coaches Stuart McCall, Jack Lester and Mark Hudson for help.

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"It's the staff here who lift me, mainly," he says. "I'm pretty hardened to the stuff that goes off in this job, whatever it is, and football tends to be the easiest part of it.

"That bit doesn't phase me, it's the bit we enjoy the most.

"When you don't get results it's tough, regardless, even if it's the first evening after a loss. I don't think that will ever change for anyone who's involved in it, just the same as the feeling of winning won't change.

"You try to deliver what you're going to do – whether it's the players, the staff, the press conference, the ownership – in a way that's pretty consistent and delivering what you want to deliver but within that there's massive ups and downs.

"You have to develop ways to deal with that and quickly move on.

SUPPORT: Sheffield United's manager Paul Heckingbottom (left) with his assistant, Stuart McCallSUPPORT: Sheffield United's manager Paul Heckingbottom (left) with his assistant, Stuart McCall
SUPPORT: Sheffield United's manager Paul Heckingbottom (left) with his assistant, Stuart McCall
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"I don't know about anyone else but for me it's not when the final whistle goes and you've lost, it's later on it hurts you.

"Conceding a goal's the worst feeling because with a result you know it's coming but in that moment I could do without that."

In the Premier League, the reality is that sometimes even Sheffield United's best is not good enough.

"There's certain things we can't control and probably the most difficult thing is getting your head around the fact that sometimes your best isn't good enough," he admits. "I say it a lot because I want to get my head around it. That is tough.

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"I have to be really clear with the players and staff on what we dig out as unacceptable. Sometimes playing against certain players or them making substitutions, decisions not going or way or whatever it may be, we need a few of them to go in our favour sometimes.

"Last season we could be a little bit more aggressive with that 'no excuses' approach."