Paul Heckingbottom says his Sheffield United side answered questions of their professionalism with Brighton victory
Paul Heckingbottom believes that his Sheffield United players answered the questions that were asked of their character and professionalism in the best possible way at the weekend, as they battled to a 1-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion a week after their relegation from the Premier League was confirmed.
The Blades showed they may be down but they are not out as they sealed only their fifth win of a miserable season, thanks to David McGoldrick’s first-half strike.
Heckingbottom’s men rode their luck at times, with Brighton having an equaliser ruled out for offside after a VAR check and Neal Maupay, a former Blades target, missing an extraordinary chance from about four yards out.
But an impressive rearguard action secured three points and a clean sheet – and what Heckingbottom felt was a perfect riposte to those who questioned whether his side may affect the integrity of the Premier League by downing tools early after their relegation.
"It's been a tough time and a tough few months for everyone and the fact the win has come after relegation has been confirmed answers a lot of questions that others have asked of us,” Heckingbottom said.
“Like are we going to try to compete and play our part in the remainder of the season? That hurt us and is disrespectful to the players, so I am pleased with the willingness of the players to get three points.
"There's no hiding away from the fact of how tough it has been for a long time and it has taken its toll on the players, the staff and the supporters.
"But now we know what is happening next season and the players showed the spirit and fight is still there. We have five more games left in this division and we are determined to enjoy every one of them.
"The players gave absolutely everything tonight and I am pleased they got their reward. I am pleased with every bit of the performance tonight, I thought we were excellent.
"If things are done right there is no reason why next season can't be a successful one. Everyone is still proud to pull on a United shirt and give their all for the team."