Sheffield United out to drag rivals into relegation dogfight ahead of crunch Bournemouth, Burnley games
Sheffield United breathed new life into survival bid with four points v Wolves and Brighton
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Sheffield United are keen to drag other teams into their relegation dogfight after breathing new life into their survival bid with four points from their last two games. The Blades took the big psychological step of moving off bottom spot, after drawing at Brighton on Sunday.
That result, a week after beating Wolves at Bramall Lane, saw them overhaul Burnley and claw themselves to within a point of third-bottom Luton Town ahead of two crunch games that could go a long way to defining their season. First up after the international break are fourth-bottom Bournemouth, before a trip to Burnley a week later.
With Fulham, in 16th, already opening up a six-point buffer between themselves and the relegation zone, it is shaping up to be a four-way relegation scrap between the bottom four sides, with United aiming to come out as champions of their own mini-league and seal their Premier League status for another season. But Heckingbottom is refusing to rule out dragging more teams into the dogfight for survival.
"That’s our intention to do that. Imagine if we get a couple more wins, and what teams will then be thinking?" he said. "We want it as tough as possible and I would think the other teams at the bottom would want that. We don’t just want four teams at the bottom.
"You want to get as many wins as possible and as early as possible for two reasons. You want to be out of trouble, of course, but you want as many people as possible in a dogfight with you. Let them feel the pressure as well."
United are not losing sight of their own predicament, however, with no-one getting carried away despite a run of form that suggests reports of their demise as a team have been exaggerated. Positive results against Bournemouth and Burnley will only bolster their survival bid, but anything less will have nerves jangling - and probably lead to increased speculation about Heckingbottom's position again.
"Our focus won’t change unless we’re winning the next dozen games and we’re in a totally different position in the league," he said. "Our goal is still going to be the same. We want more points, to drag even more teams into it, and the sooner we can do that the better."