What Paul Heckingbottom said about possible change of Sheffield United's shape ahead of Wolves clash

Paul Heckingbottom, the Sheffield United manager, is open to the possibility of changing the Blades’ shape between now and the end of the season despite admitting that he is limited in what he can change because of the number of key personnel missing through injury.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:00 pm

United have stuck with the 3-5-2 system favoured by former manager Chris Wilder since his departure last month, but Heckingbottom has switched during the game in both the recent defeats to Leeds and Arsenal.

The 3-0 loss to Arsenal saw wing-back Ben Osborn switched to a No.10 and ahead of United’s trip to Wolves this weekend, Heckingbottom admitted: “It’s a shape the players are familiar with, it can suit the same personnel and we did it to good effect at Leeds.

“Whether we start with it, we’ll have to wait and see. We’ve got limited options in certain positions, which does restrict what we do, but we’ve got nothing to lose and we don’t want to be standing still.

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“If it’s a change of shape, it’s a change of shape and if it’s a change of personnel, it’s a change of personnel. Everyone wants the same thing and we’re pushing for performances and points.”

United fell 18 points behind fourth-bottom Newcastle after defeat to Mikel Arteta’s men on Sunday, and are on the brink of a return to the Championship after two seasons in the top flight.

“We're going to look at everything, whether it's personnel or formations,” Heckingbottom added.

Paul Heckingbottom (L) and his assistant Jason Tindall: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

“We did it slightly differently against Arsenal because we wanted to be aggressive with the press and we used Ben Osborn as a 10 to get around [Thomas] Partey and run off him, so if we think the game calls for it we'll do it and if we're just looking to change things up, to create more chances to get more bodies up the pitch, I thought it worked well.

“But if I'm being critical of us as a team, I don’t think we opened them up as often as we'd have liked. I'd have liked us to be more positive.

“We need to risk the ball a bit more in the final third and get the ball in the box more.”