Sheffield United: Manager answers questions about change of approach ahead of Norwich City's visit
and live on Freeview channel 276
United will enter the meeting with Dean Smith’s side searching for their first win since returning to action since the international break and having taken only two points out of a possible 15 following Wednesday’s defeat by Coventry City.
With injuries continuing to wreak havoc at Bramall Lane - Wales defender Rhys Norrington-Davies the latest name added to a lengthy casualty list - Heckingbottom has been asked to explain why a squad that looked so durable only a month ago is now struggling to deliver positive results.
Inevitably, many of those questions have focused on United’s selections, energy and work-rate.
But reflecting upon events at the CBS Arena, Heckingbottom insisted something else is to blame for their recent downturn, saying: “I’d like everyone to look at things like the running stats. I’m not a big one for stuff like that, as people know. But they’ve shown the players have really been going for it and they’ve still been doing all of the things they were doing before.
“What’s changed is the errors, individual ones and big ones. So that’s something we’re going to have to take a look at, of course. But all of the other figures, they’re exactly the same as they were, which tells you something.”
Heckingbottom admitted he was “disappointed” with two of the decisions which led to Coventry being awarded the late penalty which saw Martyn Waghorn score the only goal of the game 48 hours ago.
Conceding Chris Basham’s foul on Viktor Gyokeres deserved to be punished by referee Keith Stroud, the 44-year-old added: “It was a slow start to the game, we had lots of play later on but didn’t open them up. I thought, overall, we defended really well. But two moments, the penalty and a player leaving their runner from a throw-in, that’s what it came down to. That’s what it hinged on - two moments.”
Previously three points clear of second place, United slipped to fourth following their loss to Coventry. Norwich, United’s nearest challengers less than a month ago, are now sixth after suffering three straight defeats.
“We went for it and we have been going for it,” Heckingbottom said. “We’re not going to leave three players up if they’re doing it, are we? We’ve been getting quite a few first contact challenges in but (at Coventry) they were always under a challenge, so then it became all about the second phase.”
“We did well at the back, Ben Osborn and Bash, until the penalty,” he added. “We know how tight this division is and what can happen if you’re not totally on top of your game. It’s how the Championship is, we all know that and we’re seeing it now. But we’ll get it back, because the players are giving everything in terms of energy and effort whenever they go out there.”