Members of Bramall Lane’s first team squad were given details of the club’s summer schedule, including the location of what is expected to be a week long training camp away from the Randox Health Academy, before the second leg of Tuesday’s Championship play-off semi-final against Nottingham Forest.
Although he refused to give further details when questioned on the choice of venue, Heckingbottom revealed dates for a return to work, the teams United will face in friendly competition and also the timing of those fixtures have also been agreed by coaching staff.
They are understood to have been discussed when Heckingbottom summoned his side to a meeting following its defeat on penalties at the City Ground, which denied United an immediate return to the Premier League following their relegation 13 months ago.
“It’s all been sorted, we know what we’re doing,” said Heckingbottom. “We also know where we’re going and when we’re doing it. It was important to get that all nailed down if you like.
“So we’ve been working on it for a while. It’s basically done.”
Appointed in November, Heckingbottom resolved to address the pre-season issue at the earliest possible opportunity after witnessing how his predecessor, Slavisa Jokanovic, was effectively forced to learn on the job when last summer’s programme descended into chaos.
The Serb, unveiled in May, oversaw only two friendly games before the campaign proper started as the Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc with United’s plans. With one of those being staged against Gibraltar’s Europa Point, Jokanovic was unable to stress-test the strategies he had formulated properly, meaning a side already struggling following the loss of its top-flight status appeared severely undercooked when competitive action resumed.
United, who went on to finish fifth, were 16th when the former Fulham and Watford chief was eventually relieved of his duties amid a string of underwhelming results and disagreements with Bramall Lane’s hierarchy.
Despite winning more than 50 percent of his matches in charge so far, Heckingbottom knows what happens when United report back for duty will influence their effectiveness next term.
“I’m proud of what the lads did,” he said, reflecting on events in the east Midlands. “Yes, I’m disappointed, we all are, because I genuinely thought we’d go all the way through. The disappointment will probably only hit me over the next few days. But then we’ve got to get over it and get on with our jobs. We’ve got to be ready to go.”
“Genuinely, my overriding feeling about them is one of pride,” Heckingbottom added. “And they should be proud of themselves because they fought. Their families will be proud of them as well, so they should know that.”
United are also set to confirm a change of kit supplier over the coming weeks. As The Star revealed earlier this year, Italian manufacturer Errea will replace Adidas as their official apparel partner, with the deal encompassing the entirety of the United World network, including Beerschot and Chateauroux.