The one thing Paul Heckingbottom won't do after learning he could take charge of Sheffield United on a permanent basis

Paul Heckingbottom has insisted that learning he features on the shortlist of names from which Sheffield United will select their next manager will not change his approach to the job.

By James Shield
Saturday, 1st May 2021, 6:00 am

Previously the club’s under-23’s coach, Heckingbottom was placed in interim charge last month when Chris Wilder’s five year reign came to an end.

Despite attempting to distance himself from the role, Heckingbottom discovered earlier this week that United’s board of directors are considering handing him the role on a permanent basis after being impressed by his handling of what is an immensely difficult brief.

“It doesn’ change anything,” said Heckingbottom, whose main rival for the post appears to be Oostende’s Alexander Blessin. “It doesn’t affect my decision making because we were really clear all along about what was happening.

Paul Heckingbottom, temporary manager of Sheffield United, with CEO Stephen Bettis: Darren Staples/Sportimage

“That was to try and steady the ship if you like, because it was a really tough moment to step into.

“I know how hard Chris worked because he’s a friend of mine, and the success he had here was unreal.

“But I won’t be doing anything differently, no, because I know what I’m here to do.”

Tomorrow’s match against Tottenham Hotspurs comes two weeks after United’s relegation from the Premier League was mathematically confirmed, following a miserable season in South Yorkshire.

Despite finishing ninth in the table last term, after Wilder had mastermind the second of two promotions, last weekend’s victory over Brighton and Hove Albion was only United’s fifth in the competition since September.

Heckingbottom, who has been asked to help draw-up United’s strategy for their imminent return to the Championship, said: “The idea was for me to come in, give the people upstairs time to make a decision and try to change the mood if you like around the place.

“But I always made sure my role (with the under-23’s) was protected, because I really enjoy doing that.”

United hope to welcome back Sander Berge and Chris Basham in north London, after the duo both took part in full-time training this week. Basham has been suffering from an unspecified muscle problem while Berge underwent hamstring surgery before Christmas.

An important message: Thank you for reading this article, one of dozens we publish every single day to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative coverage of YOUR club. This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to from the football team at The Star, please consider taking out a subscription to our new discounted sports-only package. You'll find all the details at https://www.thestar.co.uk/subscriptions/sports. Your support is much appreciated.