Sheffield United: Norwich City boss reveals what he said to Bramall Lane's angry bench during draw at Bramall Lane
and live on Freeview channel 276
Heckingbottom, whose side came from 2-0 down to salvage a share of the spoils thanks to second-half goals from Ben Osborn and Oli McBurnie, was shown a yellow card following one of many controversial incidents after the break.
Smith was asked by The Star if the 44-year-old and his coaching staff had a “legitimate” grievance about the conduct of both the match officials and City players. Shaking his head and appearing nonplussed by the question, the former Aston Villa chief replied: “I said to them (United’s coaching staff) ‘Deal with your own players and I’ll deal with mine.’ If someone has gone down then I’ll deal with it or let the referee deal with it.”
City, who had travelled to South Yorkshire on the back of the three match losing streak, appeared destined to enjoy a comfortable afternoon when Teemu Pukki scored twice early on; the first of his efforts being presented to him by United’s Adam Davies. But United, who remain without a win since the international break, came storming back when Osborn reduced the deficit and then McBurnie, introduced as a substitute, equalised. Davies, deputising for the suspended Wes Foderingham, redeemed himself by saving a late penalty taken by the Finn which had been conceded by John Egan.
Smith conceded City had “allowed” the United crowd to change the dynamic of the game by conceding some “silly fouls” as the afternoon wore on. But he was also adamant that Billy Sharp, who provided the assist for Osborn’s strike, should have been dismissed rather than booked for treading on Dimitris Giannoulis.
“Dimmi became the pantomime villain, even though Billy Sharp stood on him,” Smith insisted afterwards.
With Pukki and Josh Sargent excelling in attack, City were the dominant force and could have established an even more commanding lead until Iliman Ndiaye’s entrance from the bench and a tangle between captains Sharp and Grant Hanley, which saw the latter jab his foot into his opposite number’s body, changed revitalised the home supporters.
With both teams expected to challenge for promotion at the end of the season, the final result will have satisfied both Smith and Heckingbottom for different reasons although United, still fourth in the table, enter next weekend’s game at West Bromwich Albion still without a win since the international break.
“To be fair, game-plan wise I’m okay with it,” said Smith, whose City side are sixth. “We wanted to draw them on to us and I thought, for 65 minutes or so, we did that really well.
“(Oliver) Norwood can run the game, he’s one of their best players and for 75 minutes we stopped him from running it. But the game should have been put to bed in the first 65 minutes, because we could have been out of sight.”
“It stopped the rot in terms of defeats,” Smith added, arguing City were denied a spot-kick when Josh Sargent was upended by George Baldock. “If that’s what you want to call it.”