Unveiled as Slavisa Jokanovic’s replacement on Thursday, with a statement released by the club confirming the Serb had been sacked because “we have not seen an improvement in results, performances and we’d prefer to be in a better league position,” journalists heard a senior official suggest the outcome of matches would not define Heckingbottom’s reign.
But speaking as United applied the finishing touches to their preparations for tomorrow’s game against Bristol City, Heckingbottom even if United’s hierarchy are monitoring other performance indicators, he won’t be.
"It always is when you're in charge,” he said. “You'll be judged on results.
"We're speaking about a wider-ranging role. Hopefully if I get it right it will help this club for many years to come but short-term it's about results.
"Regardless of a strategy that I do believe in - and I think the club needs to go down that route, not only safeguarding its future but putting things in place to outperform every other football club, that's the priority - in the short-term it's results, it's this season. For me, that's the focus and that's what the fans want to see.”
Heckingbottom, previously United’s under-23’s coach, will be assisted by their former midfielder Stuart McCall and Jack Lester, who leaves his role at the academy to become head of player development. Jokanovic integrated Iliman Ndiaye, who made one appearance during Heckingbottom’s spell in caretaker charge last term, into his starting eleven and also gave senior opportunities to the likes of Kacper Lopata and Zak Brunt.
Tasked with bringing even more members of United’s youth programme through the system, Heckingbottom, previously manager of Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian, said: "They (the fans) will be here to watch their team win and they want their team to win.
"All this is going on in the background all the time but the Championship's unforgiving and we have to be on it. We them to be going home happy.”