Sheffield United boss reveals one unexpected consequence of touchline ban

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Rather than being a help, Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has revealed how technology has actually hindered his attempts to oversee his team’s games after being hit with a touchline ban.

After missing United’s meetings with Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers, Heckingbottom will complete the three match suspension he was handed by the Football Association when they visit Reading tonight.

Although Heckingbottom maintains a line of communication with members of his coaching staff from the stands, he said: “You can phone down but then you lose a signal, which frequently seems to happen, or the wifi goes down. It’s difficult. Then, for that period, you can’t get hold of anybody until everything starts up again. It’s difficult but it’s my own fault and it’s me who suffers the most.”

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The punishment was awarded following Heckingbottom’s dismissal during last month’s defeat by Middlesbrough; a result which, when coupled with Saturday’s loss at Ewood Park, means second placed United travel to Berkshire only four points above Michael Carrick’s men in third. Rovers trail United by a further two, with their manager Jon Dahl Tomasson acknowledging they are “dreaming” of overhauling both Middlesbrough and United and securing automatic promotion to the Premier League.

Heckingbottom, whose behaviour after being shown a red card was also deemed inappropriate by the FA, admitted referee Andre Marriner had been right to dismiss him during the clash with United’s rivals from Teesside. However, in a written submission provided to the governing body’s disciplinary panel, he outlined his anger stemmed from the fact his players were not being awarded free kicks if they attempted to “stay on their feet.” That subject has been a source of frustration for the 45-year-old since the beginning of the season.

“The person who has been hurt the most by this is definitely me,” said Heckingbottom, as his focus turned towards preparing United for their clash with Reading. “For me, I like to be down there. I know some people say they can get a better view (from the stands) but I prefer to feel the game and, anyway, I can see everything I need to see down there.”