‘I’m fuming,’ Sheffield United chief admits, ‘But I forgive them’

Deep inside he was fuming. But as Paul Heckingbottom’s attention turned towards next week’s game against Birmingham City, the Sheffield United manager admitted his disappointment with Thursday’s performance against Huddersfield Town would not colour his perception of the team which travels to the Midlands already assured of promotion.
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United will wave goodbye to the Championship following their appearance at St Andrews, after guaranteeing Premier League status with three matches to spare following a win over West Bromwich Albion nearly a fortnight ago.

In normal circumstances, they would enter the contest on the back of a fierce dressing down after being beaten by a Huddersfield Town side which, until Thursday’s 1-0 victory, was fighting for its survival at the opposite end of the division. But, as Heckingbottom told The Star ahead of United’s final assignment of what has been a memorable campaign, there is nothing ordinary about the situation they find themselves in right now.

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“It’s tough because there’s a bit of me that’s fuming with a lot of the things that happened the other night,” he said. “I wasn’t happy with a lot of the things I saw and I don’t think any of us enjoyed it one bit.

“But I can’t make a negative judgement on that. Not at all. Not in this position.”

Speaking after watching his team beat Albion, Heckingbottom acknowledged that the biggest challenge facing United during the closing stages of the season would be to maintain the “edge” which has underpinned the overwhelming majority of their displays since August. After dispatching Preston North End 4-1 on their return to action, it was something he admitted United lacked at the John Smith’s Stadium. And, with Town battling to remain in the second tier, something his counterpart Neil Warnock exploited in West Yorkshire.

“We want to get that back for this one but I know what the lads have done,” Heckingbottom said. “I am not going to make any judgments whatsoever about them now, because I know how much they’ve put in to do what they’ve done. They don’t have to prove anything to be at this stage.”