Sheffield United: 'This team must reflect the personality of the city' insists a member of Bramall Lane's new regime

Jack Lester has confirmed Sheffield United’s new regime wants the club to reflect the personality of the city it represents.

Tuesday, 30th November 2021, 5:03 pm

Lester, a former United centre-forward, was confirmed as part of Paul Heckingbottom’s backroom staff last week when the 44-year-old was unveiled as Slavisa Jokanovic’s successor.

Having previously overseen Bramall Lane’s academy programme, Lester will now assume special responsibility for coaching United’s frontline as the new “strategic vision” chairman Yusuf Giansiracusa insisted had paved the way for Jokanovic’s sacking begins to take shape.

Although he admitted to being obsessed by “small details” and the “nuances” of the game, Lester revealed that one of Heckingbottom’s top priorities is encouraging a change of approach on the pitch, saying: “We’ve got to have energy, be fearless and be exciting. That’s what people in Sheffield want - hard work, togetherness and spirit.

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Stuart McCall, Jack Lester and Paul Heckingbottom ahead of the win over Bristol City: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“I know what it looks like. I’ve played for the club and I live in Sheffield. Slightly different things tick the boxes at slightly different clubs. Here, I think it needs to be really exciting and that relentlessness comes straight from the training ground.”

“It’s now use being slow’ish out there and then having a conversation on the day of the game about being relentless,” Lester continued. “You’ve got to be that, relentless, right the way through the week.

“The best players, well, if you look at them then they tend to be the most competitive as well.

“The people here, they love to see good players as much as anyone. But they also want that to be combined with real fight and spirit.”

Stuart McCall, Paul Heckinbottom and Jack Lester at Sheffield United's training ground: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

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Lester, now aged 46, made 50 appearances for United during his own playing career before rejoining Nottingham Forest in 2004. Despite being born in Sheffield, he turned professional with Grimsby Town before also enjoying spells with Doncaster Rovers and Chesterfield.

Having scored 174 senior goals, Lester now hopes to pass on the some of the knowledge he acquired from the likes of Kerry Dixon, Alan Buckley and David Platt before hanging-up his own boots to the attackers Heckingbottom inherited from the Serb ahead of Sunday’s win over Bristol City. Two strikers, Rhian Brewster and Billy Sharp, were on target against Nigel Pearson’s side.

“Day to day, I’m a first team coach but I’ll be doing a lot of work with the forwards,” Lester said. “It’s something I’ve always done. Even back when I was at Forest, I volunteered to coach the academy lads then to try and pass on a few things.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed doing and it’s why, here, we tried to bring in ex-strikers, ex-defenders and ex-midfielders to work with the lads in those positions. Because sometimes they just see those little things, those tiny bits and pieces, and then it all makes sense.”

“I learnt so much from Alan, Kerry and David Platt after playing under them and also Clive Mendonca at Grimsby, who was really experienced,” Lester, officially United’s head of player development, continued. “Often the senior players are the best teachers and that’s something - together with that fearlessness - we really want to encourage.”