Sheffield United boss takes a swipe at Norway manager over Sander Berge

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has taken a swipe at Stale Solbakken, appearing to accuse his Norwegian counterpart of ‘not knowing what he is talking about’ after encouraging Sander Berge to leave Bramall Lane.

Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 4:14 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd June 2022, 4:29 pm

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Speaking ahead of a recent Nations League game, Solbakken told the Scandinavian media that Berge is “too good” for the Championship - with his comment coming shortly after United’s defeat by Nottingham Forest in the play-off semi-finals.

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Although they kept their counsel at the time, senior figures at United were known to have been angered by Solbakken’s decision to speak about Berge’s future at the time when Heckingbottom is attempting to persuade the 24-year-old to remain in South Yorkshire.

“Sander is our player,” Heckingbottom said, choosing to break his silence on the matter during a media briefing designed to coincide with the release of the new fixture schedule. “He knows how much I think of him.

“I’ve seen comments. People speaking about him who shouldn’t have been speaking about him. Our second tier is still the fourth biggest in the world. That’s why there are so many people trying to buy clubs in the Championship.

Sheffield United and Norway midfielder Sander Berge: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“That’s why there are so many people wanting to come to it, because of the pathway it provides and that’s why you’ve really got to know what you are talking about before you comment.”

Despite Heckingbottom’s efforts to convince Berge to stay put, the £22m signing’s representatives are known to be actively seeking buyers for their client in this summer’s transfer market. Berge’s contract contained a £45m release clause while United were still in the Premier League, which was reduced by £10m following their relegation two seasons ago.

In an apparent attempt to put pressure on United’s board not to accept anything less than that amount for Berge should a potential suitor emerge, Heckingbottom said: “It would be pointless to sell if the money isn’t right. You are always judged on results. As an owner and a CEO, you are still only as good as your results. The same as players and managers. That’s what it all boils down to. Always.”

Paul Heckingbottom has hit back at Stale Solbakken, the Norway manager: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Stale Solbakken believes Sander Berge is "too good" for the Championship and Sheffield United: Sascha Steinbach /Pool via Getty Images