The big challenge now facing Daniel Jebbison, as caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom explains why the youngster has been such a hit at Bramall Lane
Paul Heckingbottom says Daniel Jebbison’s explosive introduction to Premier League football emphasises the importance of developing a clear and cohesive strategy behind the scenes at Sheffield United, as the club attempts to recover from its relegation from the Premier League.
The emergence of Jebbison, who scored on his full senior debut at Everton last weekend, has been a rare success story for United this season as they come to terms not only with the loss of their top-flight status but also their long-serving manager Chris Wilder.
Although he acknowledged Jebbison still has a number of hurdles to overcome before he realises his potential, Heckingbottom, who worked with the 17-year-old at development level before taking interim charge in March, told The Star: “It was an easy decision to put him in, not only because Daniel deserved it but because he knows the role. He’s been doing it for months now.
“Chris brought me in to try and get the group playing a similar way to the first team, but obviously you also want different players. Daniel, for example, you don’t want him doing the same things David McGoldrick does but you do want them operating within the same framework.
“He’s been worked hard here, with the tactical work from myself with the under-23’s, the advice he’s been getting from (academy director) Jack Lester, who was a striker himself, about being in and around the box and also the mentality that Del (Geary) puts into the lads in the under-18’s.
“Obviously, these lads need the quality. But it makes it easier for them if they know what they are stepping into, which clearly they do.”
Despite being set to relinquish control later this month, when Wilder’s permanent successor is unveiled, Heckingbottom has been heavily involved in drawing up a recovery programme ahead of United’s return to the Championship. An advocate of adhering to a strict set of rules and principles, Heckingbottom is expected to hand Jebbison his second start at Newcastle tomorrow night.
“Hard work and focus, those are going to be the biggest challenges facing Daniel now,” he said. “He could prove me wrong, by staying in the team all the way through with his performances and scoring record. But the chances are there are going to be ups and downs, dips in form and other things like that.
“One thing we need to do is keep working him and training him. In the Championship, because you are playing Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday, Tuesday, if you are a starter then you spend a lot of time recovering. But we also need to be working and training him, because every player needs that development.”
“I definitely think it has helped Daniel, knowing what was expected of him before he came in,” Heckingbottom said. “He’s not been asked to do anything differently, just what we’ve been working on with him all the way through.”
“I think that gives these lads a little bit more belief and confidence, as well as enabling them to concentrate more on doing the right things when they make the step up,” Heckingbottom added.