Paul Heckingbottom insists he is still in the dark about who Sheffield United will choose to become their next manager

Questions about the progress of Sheffield United’s search for a new manager should be directed to the club’s board of directors rather than coaching staff, caretaker Paul Heckingbottom has insisted, after confirming he has not been briefed on when an appointment is likely to be made.

Friday, 7th May 2021, 4:15 pm

Placed in interim charge following Chris Wilder’s departure earlier this term, the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian chief is now regarded as the 53-year-old’s most likely successor unless Oostende’s Alexander Blessin can secure a work permit.

After initially going to great lengths to distance himself from the role, Heckingbottom faced a barrage of questions about his ambitions when Steve Bettis, United’s chief executive, acknowledged he featured on a five strong shortlist drawn up by owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his advisor Jan van Winckel.

With no other candidates being publicly identified, many observers Bettis was acting under instruction to float the idea of appointing Heckingbottom in order to see how it resonated among supporters.

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Paul Heckingbottom and his assistant Jason Tindall (R): Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Predictably, the issue was raised again when United staged a pre-match press conference to preview tomorrow’s match against Crystal Palace.

“No, nothing has changed from my perspective,” Heckingbottom said. “In fairness, you probably need someone else sat here to answer those questions properly.

“For me, nothing has changed. The brief is the same as it always was and that’s to come in, try and steady the ship, get things working and get things ticking over.”

Although United insist they are exploring several lines of enquiry at home and abroad, Heckingbottom has been asked to help divide a recovery programme ahead of next term’s return to the Championship after their relegation from the Premier League was sealed last month.

“I’m just trying to make sure we’re in the best place possible, because that was part of my remit as you’d expect,” he said. “That’s what I’m doing and that’s what I’m focused on.

"Seriously, as far as I’m concered, nothing has changed. I’m doing the job in the same way as I was asked to and with the same targets in mind which are fir the benefit of the club.”