The proof Sheffield United really are 'putting it all in' as relegation beckons
Paul Heckingbottom, Sheffield United’s caretaker manager, insists he has irrefutable proof that claims some of the club’s players have lacked fight and commitment since it became apparent they are destined for relegation from the Premier League.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers, a match United have prepared for 18 points adrift of safety with only seven matches of the season remaining, Heckingbottom referenced a dossier of statistics measuring the squad’s application and work rate as he sought to address the accusations.
“If you look at the physical stats, there is only Leeds who have out-performed us in those areas,” Heckingbottom said. “So that goes to show that the players are trying. That tells you all you need to know about how much they are putting in.
“There’s no way that happens if people aren’t giving everything or if one or two are letting the rest of them down. No way at all does that happen, and it’s there for people to see.”
"They really are doing everything they can,” he added. “And that’s the only thing you can do, because nobody can turn things around for you in football. You have to just keep working hard and show that it can come from within. There’s no magic pill for confidence, and if there was then the person who invented it would be a millionaire.”
Rather than a shortage of industry being responsible for the predicament United find themselves in, a paucity of genuine top-flight quality is a bigger factor - with a series of injuries to influential performers exposing the lack of depth at Heckingbottom’s disposal.
However, although strikers Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie have now been ruled out for the rest of the campaign, while John Fleck is undergoing treatment for a groin problem, Heckingbottom revealed there could be some light on the horizon with both Sander Berge and Jack Robinson entering the closing stages of their rehabilitation programmes.
Confirming Berge has taken part in full contact training sessions all week, Heckingbottom said: “Robbis is probably a week behind him, in terms of what we’re looking to get him doing and what he is doing right now.”