Sheffield United boss’s reassuring pledge to fans ahead of crunch Watford clash

Blades face Watford looking to arrest mini-slump in form
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Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, has reassured supporters that the issues leading to defeat at Millwall on Saturday are not being “brushed under the carpet” as he and his players look to get their promotion push back on track.

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Back-to-back defeats have put a dent in United’s lead over third-placed Middlesbrough, which now stands at four points. Michael Carrick’s men are also in red-hot form at the minute, with midfielder Daniel Barlaser claiming in the week that he would rather be in his side’s position than the Blades’.

United can calm a few nerves on the terraces this weekend with victory over another promotion-chaser in Watford at Bramall Lane, while Boro travel to West Bromwich Albion.

And Heckingbottom, discussing defeat at The Den, admitted: “It’s out of character. Listen, we know what the problem was. The goals we conceded and how we conceded them.

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“But we can’t brush it under the carpet and hope it doesn’t happen again. We have to work hard on that now and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“If we want excuses, they’re there. I said to the players at half time: ‘Do we want to be that team that moans we played on Wednesday night? Travelled here and whatever?’ Because if we do, then we might as well give them the points.

“We don’t do that. At all. We needed to be better second half and it shows the mental aspect, how you can force your way into the game and impact the game. We played another 45 minutes and still ran more and were more aggressive. The mentality second half was great. Maybe to force that edge into us, we lost a bit of composure.

“We need to be at our best. If we’re at our best, we’re fine. No problem.”