Paul Heckingbottom's clever use of social media getting results at Sheffield United

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now
Paul Heckingbottom has told The Star how Sheffield United use social media to collect intelligence on opposition teams, revealing how information West Bromwich Albion published on one of their official channels helped them beat Carlos Corberan’s side.
Read More
Sheffield United: Striker in need of "protection" can't be withdrawn from the fr...

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Bristol City, which Heckingbottom hopes will see his side close the four point gap between themselves and the automatic promotion positions, the 44-year-old admitted to tasking one member of Bramall Lane’s backroom staff with the job of trawling through sites such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook in order to gather information on rival teams.

Before dashing Corberan’s hopes of marking his first match in charge of Albion with a win, Heckingbottom had insisted the Spaniard’s appointment meant United were “unsure” how the hosts would approach the contest.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

But afterwards he admitted they already “had an idea” about the tactics United would face thanks to the video clips and pictures Albion released on their official channels of the new head coach in action during his first training session.

Confirming it is a practice he regularly employs, Heckingbottom said: “You have to look at it (social media) because there’s so much stuff that gets put on there and a lot of it is more instructive than people sometimes realise. We put a lot of time into it. There might be something seemingly insignificant which goes out, something visual or something that’s said, and it can tell you a lot if you know what you’re looking for.”

ohn Egan,  lliman Ndiaye and Anel Ahmedhodzic of Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / Sportimageohn Egan,  lliman Ndiaye and Anel Ahmedhodzic of Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / Sportimage
ohn Egan, lliman Ndiaye and Anel Ahmedhodzic of Sheffield United: Andrew Yates / Sportimage

Acknowledging United were in fact “pretty sure” what Albion “were going to do” because “they put something out for us to see,” Heckingbottom explained the ploy recently convinced him to open another front in the battle for a top two finish, adding: “We tend to do the opposite, we can do things that are misleading or cause a bit of confusion. The social media accounts, I won’t tell you who it was exactly, but last season we found out through one that a really important player wouldn’t be playing for their team against us. It wasn’t through anything they put up. But their wife let slip they’d all gone away on holiday and so we knew he wouldn’t be involved against us.”

United finished the latest round of matches fourth in the table, thanks to first-half goals from Iliman Ndiaye and Oli McBurnie. The sight of Rhian Brewster being forced off with a hamstring injury, sustained soon after he had been introduced as a substitute, took some of the shine of what was an otherwise productive afternoon’s work while defender Anel Ahmedhodzic will miss the clash at Ashton Gate through suspension. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international collected his fifth caution of the season against Albion, but goalkeeper Wes Foderingham is available for selection against City after completing a three match ban.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Returning to the theme of social media, Heckingbottom said: “There’s someone here who does all of that, looking at stuff and finding things out through it, beforehand. If you want to win, if you enjoy what you do, then look at social media. There’s so much information out there and a lot of it is rubbish but if you can find the relevant stuff then it can be really useful.”