Sheffield United: The points per game average for promotion and pats on the back

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After seeing injuries wreak havoc with their planning throughout the first half of the season, Sheffield United’s players and coaching staff have been commended for delivering positive results in difficult circumstances.

Second in the table ahead of Monday’s game at Wigan Athletic, having won 55 percent of their league matches so far this term, Paul Heckingbottom has insisted United’s squad has performed beyond expectations given the problems they have faced.

But with key players including Sander Berge, Max Lowe and Jayden Bogle all returning to action, Heckingbottom wants to see his side improve their points per game average which currently stands at 1.86 - calculating that even a slight raise will leave them “in the promotion mix”.

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“Whatever we have done to get ourselves in this position, everyone deserves a huge pat on the back,” the United manager said. “But the message to the players now is that we need to be even better and that we want an even better points return. That’s got to be the aim. It has to be.”

United’s PPG average was 1.93 when they finished as Championship runners-up under Heckingbottom’s predecessor Chris Wilder. After impressing during their first year back in the top-flight, Heckingbottom oversaw their relegation after being placed in caretaker charge before, following United’s brief flirtation with Slavisa Jokanovic, taking over on a permanent basis 13 months ago. Two of the last three sides to secure second place did so after returning averages of more than 1.9.

“If we’d have known what we were going to deal with,” Heckingbottom said, “Then we’d have snapped your hand off to be where we are.”