Sheffield United boss's message to supporters ahead of pressure games in play-off bid

Paul Heckingbottom has called on Sheffield United’s players and supporters to embrace the anxiety of their push for promotion, insisting that the pressure should be welcomed rather than something to be feared.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 4:30 pm
Updated Monday, 25th April 2022, 8:38 pm

With two games of the regular season remaining, United are sixth in the table and three points ahead of their nearest challengers Millwall.

A positive result at Queens Park Rangers on Friday evening could further enhance the Blades’ play-off hopes – a remarkable turnaround from the position they were in when Heckingbottom succeeded Slavisa Jokanović back in November, when their season was going nowhere fast.

Given United’s horrid record in the play-offs, a degree of trepidation about the end-of-season shootout will be inevitable on the Bramall Lane terraces. But Heckingbottom, whose side beat Cardiff City 1-0 on Saturday, admitted: “We’re enjoying it.

“I know it can be nervy out there with the fans, but that’s why we’re here. Everyone wants to be in that position, not midtable with nothing to play for.

“You want everything that comes with it and you’ve got to enjoy it. If anyone had said we’d be in this position in November, there’d have been a few laughs I’m sure.

“We’ve got to enjoy where we are and that will help us then achieve what we want, which is hopefully getting into that top six.”

Paul Heckingbottom gees up the Sheffield United fans after victory over Cardiff City: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

But Heckingbottom’s words should not be interpreted as a sign that anyone at United is taking a play-off place, or promotion bid, for granted.

“You can’t do that,” the former Barnsley and Leeds United chief added.

“We’ve been a Premier League club for the last couple of years and this is our first season down, and my first chat with the staff and players was that there can be no sense of entitlement.

“You’re where you belong and at that moment in time we belonged wherever we were in the league. Hard work, determination and the right mentality gets you out of it and it’s the same with everyone else.

“Don’t take things for granted and make sure you enjoy every minute. And that’ll be the same in these last two games.”