Sheffield United fans are told: 'You can scare opponents to death'
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After suffering back to back defeats to Millwall and third-placed Middlesbrough, United enter tomorrow’s game against Watford still second in the Championship table but now only four points above Michael Carrick’s side.
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Although Heckingbottom admitted last night that conversations have been held “among the group” about the need to regain momentum, he told The Star: “As much as I push the players to be even better than they have been, I’m going to push the fans to be even better for us every single week as well. Genuinely, I don’t think they know how important they are. We’ve had some amazing afternoons and nights where the noise has been so loud you can hardly hear yourself speak on the touchline and it does make a big difference.”
“Basically,” Heckingbottom added, “I just want them to scare the opposition to death.”
Relegated from the Premier League last season, Watford will pose another difficult test of United’s top two credentials and triumphed 1-0 when the two teams met at Vicarage Road earlier this term.
United expect to welcome Iliman Ndiaye back to their starting eleven for the game, after he began the trip to south London on the bench. Despite acknowledging an “illness” has been going through his squad “for a few weeks” now, Heckingbottom insisted all of those who made the journey to The Den six days ago are available for selection against the visitors from Hertfordshire.
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Explaining how the atmosphere generated by United’s followers can have a tangible effect upon events on the pitch, Heckingbottom said: “Wes (Foderingham) and that save against Blackburn when we were down to 10 men, the reaction to that didn’t only just help us then it spilled over into the next match too. This season, we’ve seen it against Norwich City and Burnley at home as well, when we were behind and came back to either win or take something.”
“We aren’t always going to be at our best,” Heckingbottom added. “And that’s when we need the fans more than ever. I know we have a responsibility to them and yes, we’re going to take risks because I don’t want to be bored down there on the touchline.
“When you’re on the receiving end of it, it can be so difficult to cope with. I know that because so many opposition managers mention it either immediately after coming here or when you bump into them further down the line. It’s so powerful, having them behind you. Trust me on that.”
Watford make the journey north on the back of a victory over West Bromwich Albion, which briefly saw them climb back into the play-off positions before a series of fixtures later in the week.
“We always need a win,” Heckingbottom said, revealing that George Baldock will also resume full training today after recovering from an injury. “But in a sense, when we get them is irrelevant. So long as we get enough of them over the course (of the season) to get us to where we want to be.”