Under-pressure Paul Heckingbottom questions Sheffield United bravery as he threatens to wield axe
Whether Heckingbottom will be picking that team has been cast into doubt by the paucity of his side's play in consecutive defeats to relegation rivals Bournemouth and Burnley which have send the Blades back to the bottom of the table.
From there Burnley recorded their first home point and first clean sheet of the campaign.
Heckingbottom did not spare his players – who were made to stay silent in the dressing-room post-mortem – when talking to the media.
"There's not many times I've not got it spot on in terms of (his assessment of) what the game looked like and last week I could see we were running," he said. "We were really poor with the ball but it was one of our biggest efforts in terms of physical output.
"But that running has to impact the game, whether it's that final tackle or getting to the ball rather than running around, whether it's a sprint rather than a three-quarter-paced run.
"It's not effort (that was lacking at Turf Moor), it's a bravery on the ball and a bravery to compete. Sometimes it gets tricky but good players can handle that."
This is the first time since 2020 the Premier League has reached December without a managerial sacking, but with some fans briefly chanting "We want Hecky out!" the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager's position is under threat. He is next due to address the media on Monday afternoon.
"The here and now is finding performances out of players, not trying to hide, motivate, turn any fragile elements of people's personalities on the pitch at the minute, try and disguise and get rid of that," he said.
Asked how he could get a reaction, he replied: "The biggest one for me was always being left out when I played.
"I didn't think I trained any harder or I tried any harder, I thought I always tried, but there's that subconscious element.
"Some people respond and until there's a consequence to how you're trying to improve a player I need to do that.
"We can't hide away, when you go on the pitch you need big balls. You can't be a shrinking violet."
Heckingbottom said he had not seen such a tepid start, with two weak tackles in the build-up to Rodriguez’s goal, coming.
"I don't know if that start, the goal, changed anything or whether the second goal (from Jacob Bruun Larsen after 29 minutes) did,” he reflected. “The sending off (in first-half stoppage time) changes the dynamic of the game.”
It was McBurnie second of the season, meaning he will be suspended for home games against Liverpool and Brentford. The injury which took George Baldock off in the first half must be assessed.