Sheffield United: Bond between team and terraces is growing - and here's why

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, has attributed the burgeoning relationship between his team and its followers to the fact their football represents the personality of the community they represent.

More than 26,000 people, the overwhelming majority of them supporting United, witnessed the hosts’ 4-0 victory over Swansea City on a bitterly cold afternoon at Bramall Lane.

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With eight of his first 12 matches in charge taking place away from home thanks to a series of postponements over the Christmas and New Year period, Heckingbottom expressed concerns before City’s visit that this United squad could struggle to establish a proper rapport with the crowd.

But speaking after goals from George Baldock and Billy Sharp, sandwiched in between a Morgan Gibbs-White brace, lifted them to sixth in the Championship table, he told The Star: “I hope that (relationship) is growing. I know what type of football this area needs and wants. I know because I am from this area. People want to see you giving everything. They want to see you work hard. If you do that and it’s not good enough on the day then, so be it. But people around here will still forgive you if you put everything in.”

Born in Barnsley, Heckingbottom represented four sides from Yorkshire as well as his hometown club before carving a coaching career.

Paul Heckingbottom applauds the fans after Sheffield United's win over Swansea City: Darren Staples / Sportimage

“Score goals, work hard, fight to get the ball back when you don’t have it,” he added. “When you don’t have it, work hard to get it back. That’s what we want.”

Sheffield United's players celebrate with the fans: Simon Bellis / Sportimage