Sheffield United: The secrets of Paul Heckingbottom's remarkable success are finally revealed

Paul Heckingbottom’s assistant Stuart McCall has revealed the qualities which have enabled the former academy coach to transform Sheffield United’s fortunes.
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Appointed first team manager in November, Heckingbottom enters today’s game against Millwall having won nine of his first 13 league matches at the helm - three more than his predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic achieved in 19 outings.

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With United preparing for this afternoon’s visit to London sixth in the Championship table - 10 places higher than when the 44-year-old was appointed in November - victory at The Den will fuel hopes at Bramall Lane of an immediate return to the top-flight following last season’s relegation.

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McCall, who previously managed Heckingbottom at Bradford City, is keen to downplay talk of promotion for the time being.

But, providing an insight into the secrets behind the former defender’s success, he said: “I know Paul well, obviously. So although people will expect me to say this, honestly I’ve been really impressed with how he goes about things.

“He drives everything. We’ve got a very big staff here and he leads from the front. But at the same time, he’s really good at interacting. The interaction he’s got, bringing everyone together, is great.

“He’s also very good at delegating. He’s brought people to the club and he’s working with people, like him, who were already here as well. His delegation skills are excellent. I know, because he delegated the tea and coffee making to me every single day.

Stuart McCall managed Paul Heckingbottom at Bradford City: Simon Bellis / SportimageStuart McCall managed Paul Heckingbottom at Bradford City: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Stuart McCall managed Paul Heckingbottom at Bradford City: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
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“Basically, he’s a really intelligent lad and really well driven.”

Having completed spells in charge of Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian before being hired by United to oversee their under-23’s squad, Heckingbottom’s reputation in footballing circles is growing week on week.

“He’s happy to go under the radar,” continued McCall, when asked if Heckingbottom’s work deserves greater national acclaim. “He’s not looking for accolades or anything like that. Hopefully at the end of the season, that’s when we’ll have some nice accolades to enjoy.”