Sheffield United: Paul Heckingbottom reveals his big weapon in the battle to revive The Blades

Paul Heckingbottom wants to help Sheffield United climb the Championship table by putting “smiles” back on the faces of “everyone” at the football club.

Saturday, 27th November 2021, 5:00 am

Speaking as he prepares to take charge for the first time since being confirmed as manager following Slavisa Jokanovic’s sacking, Heckingbottom also outlined the qualities players will be expected to demonstrate under his leadership.

Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against Bristol City, Heckingbottom insisted the fact United beat Reading during Jokanovic’s final match at the helm should give him a head start, admitting: "The fact we won is a good thing, in terms of the points total, the players' belief. I've had two days with them now before the game.

"My approach will be the same as last time. I always want to see hard work, I want to see people taking responsibility and being judged on that, making people accountable for their work, their effort and their standards, but I want to see smiles on faces again, everyone across the club.

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Paul Heckingbottom is the new manager of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

"You only do that by winning and you only win by working hard.”

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Heckingbottom performed the role on an interim basis last season, stepping into the breach when Jokanovic’s predecessor Chris Wilder departed following the deterioration of his relationship with United’ board of directors. Although chairman Yusuf Giansiracusa and Steve Bettis both told journalists that Heckingbottom had impressed during that spell, Jokanovic was eventually handed the task of steering United back into the Premier League following their relegation in April. A promotion winner with Watford and Fulham before being appointed, the Serb, who made a slow start to life at both Vicarage Road and Craven Cottage, was relieved of his duties with United 16th in the Championship table.

Slavisa Jokanovic won his final match in charge of Sheffield United, at Reading: David Klein / Sportimage

Midfielder John Fleck will miss the meeting with City after appearing to suffer a seizure at the Select Car Leasing Stadium. But the Scot would have sat out the fixture anyway because of suspension.

Heckingbottom, who will be assisted by Stuart McCall and Jack Lester, said: “Even when you're winning, it's the hungriest teams that are successful, always. But if it was that easy everyone would just take a tablet. That's our focus.

"I'm confident of doing that and with the staff I've brought in."

Paul Heckingbottom is unveiled at Bramall Lane: Simon Bellis/Sportimage