Sheffield United boss set for crucial top-level talks today as he begins Premier League planning
and live on Freeview channel 276
Having secured promotion from the Championship with three games to spare, United ensured a campaign which also saw them reach the semi-finals of the FA Cup ended on a high note by beating Birmingham City at St Andrews.
Acknowledging reinforcements are required in order to ensure his squad is competitive at the highest level, Heckingbottom also wants to inform those members whose deals are about to expire if they will either see extension clauses triggered or invited to remain in South Yorkshire. Eight of those on duty in the West Midlands, where goals from Oli McBurnie and the on-loan James McAtee propelled United to victory, are set to become free agents shortly.
“I’m speaking to the players tomorrow,” Heckingbottom confirmed this evening. “We’ve had conversations (with the board of directors) and I want to chat with Steve (Bettis, United’s chief executive) tomorrow morning and make sure I understand exactly what I can do before I speak to the players.”
“It’s not my club, I’m not the owner,” added Heckingbottom. “But flip that around and I do think I know what I’m doing. I’ll always fight and push for what I think is right. Why? Because I am the one who has to stand on the sidelines and we want to be as strong as we possibly can be."
Despite accepting his blueprint for top-flight survival could be complicated by the fact that Sander Berge and Iliman Ndiaye, who provided the assist for McAtee’s strike, are set to attract interest from rival teams, Heckingbottom again reminded that “clarity” is more important to him than money. The 45-year-old would like to see both McAtee and his Manchester City team mate Tommy Doyle return to United over the summer. But in order for that to happen, he must broker a permanent deal for one.
“If we follow the same process as last season, when we knew exactly what we had, then it will allow us to do a good job,” Heckingbottom said. “That, the clarity, was the big thing.”