Sheffield United: Referees told they can stop football sinking into the abyss
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The 44-year-old, whose Sheffield United side face West Bromwich Albion tomorrow, has been outspoken in his criticism of the tactics, arguing they are not only making legitimate competition impossible but also shortchange supporters.
Despite insisting before and after last weekend’s draw with Norwich City that he “gets on well” with Dean Smith, his counterpart at Carrow Road, Heckingbottom exchanged words with the visitors’ bench following one of several controversial incidents during the match.
Smith later told The Star he had reminded the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian chief: “Deal with your own players and I’ll deal with mine.” But when he was later pressed to divulge the comment which had provoked that response, Heckingbottom replied: “That’s not for me to deal with (going down). It’s for the referee to deal with.”
Heckingbottom has attempted to open a line of communication with match officials, meeting Kevin Friend, who oversees their work in the English Football League, earlier this month to discuss the findings of an investigation he ordered United’s analytical department to undertake. They argued practices such as the slow-taking of goal-kicks and set-pieces had wasted around 30 minutes of football during two of the club’s recent outings. Heckingbottom later described his discussions with Friend as “worthwhile” and “constructive”.
Dean Whitestone, who oversaw United’s win at Peterborough nine months ago, is scheduled to take charge of their game against Albion; Carlos Corberan’s first appearance in charge of the hosts.