Why Sheffield United boss is embracing the lows as well as the highs of promotion push - Alan Biggs Column
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One thing the Sheffield United manager has discovered about himself through football is a sort of perverse pleasure that helps him keep a sense of balance. “Enjoy the lows” is a surprising saying from his psychological toolbox. And it may just help the Blades through a really rocky spell in a season that had been progressing so smoothly.
During a short spell in charge of Hibernian in Scotland, Hecky stunned those around him as they moped from losing to a last minute goal against Aberdeen. “Nothing makes you feel like this, enjoy it!” was his message to the forlorn group.
His point was that without the lows there are no highs, so to be in this addictive game you have to be hooked on both. Which may explain his relatively even temperament win, lose or draw and an ability not to overreact to victory or defeat.
Not that Hecky doesn’t have his moments behind closed doors. Just that he calculates in advance, through awareness of his mood, whether losing his temper will have the desired effect. Or not.“I try to be clear at what’s going to tip me over the edge, good or bad,” the Blades boss told me. “If you’re upset, you’ve got to be upset. If you’re happy, you’ve got to be happy.”
But Hecky’s mind trick is choosing how much of either to show. If there is an edge to gain then … “I’m happy at what gets me angry because I think it’s for the best.”Then again, he admits he had to be restrained by a member of his staff, Stuart McCall, when he started to wade in after a recent home loss to QPR. “Macca stopped me,” he said, explaining that the points he was about to make had already been said.Fair to say that, in private that is, he hasn’t been so restrained about refereeing performances during a run of six games without a win. But Hecky can’t control that. What he can is shepherd his injury ravaged squad to the World Cup break amid a season in which, astonishingly, 15 players have been sidelined at various times.While last Saturday’s starting omission of Iliman Ndiaye, Oli McBurnie and Tommy Doyle drew understandable criticism - and all three helped the recovery to a 2-2 draw with Norwich - it was not a surprise measure. I’d wager all three would be automatics if the manager had his way. But only in an ideal situation and this it is not. Yet.