Sheffield United are warned about the danger of failing to address their biggest issues

Sheffield United must address the issues which blighted their performance at Leeds or risk suffering an even heavier defeat when Arsenal visit Bramall Lane this weekend, Paul Heckingbottom has warned.

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 12:07 pm

United’s caretaker manager highlighted a number of weaknesses in United’s game during Saturday’s trip to Elland Road, with a lack of attention to detail when attempting to build moves chief among them.

Although that is a symptom of poor confidence - and United’s appeared to have disappeared completely en route to their 24th defeat in 30 Premier League outings so far this term - Heckingbottom admitted to being angered by the sight of possession constantly being turned over; particularly during the first-half, when Marcelo Bielsa’s men dominated.

“The sloppy possession was frustrating,” Heckingbottom said. “If you are not going to take care of it (the ball) when you are in possession, then things become so much more difficult.

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“Some things we did were good, I thought. But some weren’t, and we were sloppy in key areas of the pitch. Especially when it came to turnovers .

“When we won the ball back in our defensive third, which we did on a number of occasions, we gave it away two or three passes later. And that happened far too often.”

Despite being admirable in one sense, United’s insistence on trying to play their way out from the back also raised eyebrows - with some former professionals in attendance questioning why, with morale and self-belief at such a low ebb, they did not adopt a more direct approach.

However, with injuries limiting his room for manoeuvre in terms of selections, and also knowing he looks set to return to his role with the under-23’s when United identify Wilder’s permanent replacement, Heckingbottom is determined to persevere with the methods which helped them twice win promotion under his predecessor until this season’s dramatic downturn in fortunes. That, the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian manager has insisted on numerous occasions since stepping into the breach, gives the next man at the helm the best possible chance of making a smooth transition.

“We just have to roll our sleeves and get on with it,” Heckingbottom said. “We can’t feel sorry for ourselves. You just can’t in this business.”

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Ben Osborn of Sheffield United looks dejected at the final whistle following the Premier League match at Elland Road, Leeds: Andrew Yates/Sportimage
Paul Heckingbottom is preparing Sheffield United to face Arsenal this weekend: Simon Bellis/Sportimage