Underdogs Sheffield United have to make cup mindset the norm in Premier League, says Paul Heckingbottom

Perhaps Sheffield United's best result of last season came when they beat Tottenham Hotspur in a one-off cup match.

Now, as his side prepare to face Spurs in the Premier League, manager Paul Heckingbottom says they have to take a cup mentality into every game.

Championship Sheffield United knocked Spurs out of last season's FA Cup fifth round with a 1-0 home win but this season they will be the underdogs almost every week.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Saturday's hosts were one of the revelations of the early part of the campaign, shrugging off the departure of Harry Kane to play some of the top flight's most refreshing football under Conte's successor Ange Postecoglou.

Sheffield United, by contrast, are still to win this season, although they did take a first point from their last match, at home to Everton.

"To do it week in, week out is totally different to doing it in a one-off," warned Heckingbottom. "It's almost like each league game for us is that biggest cup game you're going to have all season. We can't have a day off.

"We've got to give everything every game. Every team is scrapping, of course they are, but we can't underestimate anyone. Everything's a cup final for us, we have to be at our best.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"Could there be teams that underestimate us this season? Yeah, hopefully. We can't ever afford to have that approach."

FULL COMMITMENT: Jack Robinson tackles Lucas Moura in March's FA Cup tieFULL COMMITMENT: Jack Robinson tackles Lucas Moura in March's FA Cup tie
FULL COMMITMENT: Jack Robinson tackles Lucas Moura in March's FA Cup tie

The key, as in March, is not being scared a better team man for man.

“I want us to play with no fear,” said Heckingbottom. “They’ll be favourites, and rightly so, but I believe in this group of players and that we can go there and win. Definitely.

"They’ve got some undoubted threats and we’re going to see that. We can’t go there hoping they’re just going to underperform, we’ve got to go there expecting them to show their quality and their threats.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“They’ve got players who haven’t been quiet in any game this season so we know it’ll be tough.

DEMANDS: Sheffield United manager Paul HeckingbottomDEMANDS: Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom
DEMANDS: Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom

"If we play in a really fearless nature, which is what we’re going to try and work towards week after week and improve in that respect, then we’ll try and pose them problems going the other way as well.

"The worst way you can set a team up is defensively but with no aggression. We want to take risks when we’ve got it (the ball). We want to create chances.

"We know that’s tougher this season than last but we have to be of that mindset. We want to be positive and when we defend, it’s about trying to win the ball back.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“There has to be an aggression about us even in our defensive third. It’s about not worrying about consequences, just going out and trying to perform.

"If they make mistakes trying to get on the ball and do the right thing, I’ll defend them all the way.

"If we haven’t got players on the pitch willing to take the ball, I’ll change the players. The same if they’re not willing to fight or run or compete.

"If we’ve got that attitude and willingness to do it then brilliant, we’ve got a better chance of succeeding and improving, game on game.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We’ll get 10 men behind the ball to defend but we’ll also get 10 men on the ball to try and score.

“As long as you’re doing what we’re asking in here than that’s fine and it’s important to go and take risks and get on the ball and play on the front foot. I think it gives us the best chance of picking up points.”

Heckingbottom would not say which of the three is ruled out but the other two are doubts.

Anel Ahmedhodzic, however, has recovered from the thigh/hamstring injury he pulled out of Bosnia Herzegovina's squad with.