Sheffield United are told actions will speak louder than words when they look to do a 'Norwich'

Sheffield United have been warned it is not enough to simply study Norwich City’s response to being relegated from the Premier League if they also want to bounce back at the first attempt, with Paul Heckingbottom admitting actions will speak louder than words at Bramall Lane.

Sunday, 18th April 2021, 5:00 pm

United surrendered their top-flight status after two years at the highest level when they were beaten by Wolverhampton Wanderers over the weekend, with Willian Jose’s second-half strike leaving them 19 points adrift of safety with only six matches remaining.

City suffered a similar fate last season, after beating United to the Championship title a year earlier. But their return to the highest level was confirmed on Saturday - only hours before their old rivals’ fate was sealed.

Although United parted company with manager Chris Wilder last month whereas Daniel Farke remains in charge at Carrow Road, Heckingbottom, who was handed the reins on a caretaker basis following the 57-year-old’s exit, believes there is more to the Norfolk club’s success than their faith in the German.

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Sheffield United's Interim manager Paul Heckingbottom (L) consoles Sheffield United's English midfielder Kean Bryan as defeat means they are relegated from the Premier League, after the English Premier League football match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Sheffield United at the Molineux stadium in Wolverhampton, central England on April 17, 2021. - Wolves won the game 1-0, Sheffield United are relegated. (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by GEOFF CADDICK/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

“Norwich have had a very clear way for sometime now,” Heckingbottom said. “They brought Daniel in and also a director of football, and recruited players to have a particular style of football.

“It’s enabled them to sell good platters in their eleven and then already have targets identified to bring in. And when they haven’t been able to bring them in, they haven’t sold. That’s good management and good strategy.

“There’s a skill in doing it though. Any club can talk about it. The skill is actually being able to carry all of that through. Clubs have to be absolutely selfless for that to happen as well. There has to be a strategy and a skill to implement it. Otherwise, it doesn’ really count for much because it’s just talk.”

With only two months to go until preparations for next season will begin in earnest, United have yet to announce who will replace Wilder on a permanent basis. That, despite being linked with Oostende head coach Alexander Blessin and Slavisa Jokanovic, has prompted speculation that Heckingbottom could also be considered by the board of director and Jan van Winckel; owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s sporting advisor and United’s de facto DoF.

“The Norwich pathway would, I think, be a good one for this club to follow,” Heckingbottom said. “Doing what they have done has to be the goal for us, coming straight back.

“What’s happened here, it’s been an incredible journey that people have got to remember started under Chris in League One. Those five years, we have to look to the future now and try to do what Norwich have done.”

"It can be done, as Norwich and Daniel and the others there have shown,” he added. “It’s important to remember that we are going back to the Championship also, which means we’re on a much stronger footing financially than when everything started under Chris. So that’s another thing to try and take advantage of moving forward.”