Sheffield United tell Norway boss: 'You should be thanking us about Sander Berge'

Paul Heckingbottom has told Stale Solbakken, the Norway manager, that he should be thanking Sheffield United for their handling of Sander Berge rather than encouraging the midfielder to leave Bramall Lane.
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Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Norwich City, which Berge is expected to start as United resume their push for automatic promotion from the Championship, Heckingbottom insisted he “wasn’t bothered” by Solbakken’s latest interjection into the debate about the 25-year-old’s career.

After awarding Berge his latest two caps during the international break, against Spain and Georgia, Solbakken told the Scandinavian media that “it may be good” for the player to “enter a different culture and structure.” Although Solbakken insisted his comments were not being directed at United, they have clearly irritated Heckingbottom who suggested there was “no need” for the former Wimbledon and Lillestrom midfielder “to be commenting.”

Sander Berge of Sheffield United and Norway: Trond Tandberg/Getty ImagesSander Berge of Sheffield United and Norway: Trond Tandberg/Getty Images
Sander Berge of Sheffield United and Norway: Trond Tandberg/Getty Images
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“I’m probably doing his work for him, he (Solbakken) should probably be ringing me and thanking me,” Heckingbottom told The Star, after suggesting he was “picking Berge back up” after being deployed as a winger in one of those games. “I love Sander to bits and he’s been superb for us.”

“Really, I’ve got nothing to say in it,” Heckingbottom added. “Because I know how important Sander is for us and what he puts in.”

United travel to Carrow Road second in the table and three points ahead of third-placed Middlesbrough with nine league matches of the season remaining. A £22m signing from Genk, Berge enters the final 12 months of his contract this summer and attracted interest from Club Brugge at the beginning of the campaign before remaining in South Yorkshire.

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Jan Kruger/Getty ImagesSheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

“Most of the time, when I see people commenting on Sander, it’s almost as if he’s judged to a different standard than anyone else. That might be to do with the narrative surrounding him, I don’t know. But that’s definitely how it looks to me.

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“He’s scored a lot of goals for us, as a midfielder. Everything he does for us, his defensive work as well, it’s very important.

“In a way, I feel a bit sorry for him because everytime he finds himself in a situation like this, it’s never one of his own making.”