Why Sheffield United hope Man City play Erling Haaland at Wembley in FA Cup semi-final
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Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s FA Cup semi-final against Pep Guardiola’s side, whose attack could be spearheaded by the Norway international, Heckingbottom admitted to being “delighted” when the former Borussia Dortmund marksman made the move to England given his admiration for the player.
The likes of Will Osula, Daniel Jebbison and even Iliman Ndiaye, who represented Senegal at last year’s World Cup in Qatar, were among those who studied Haaland as they progressed through Bramall Lane’s system.
“He is someone we used as an example to the young strikers here,” said Heckingbottom, who took charge of United’s first team in November 2021. “I hope he plays but that we don’t see the best of him.”
“I actually saw a lot more of him when he was in Germany, because we are obviously more immersed in the Championship rather than the Premier League,” Heckingbottom added. “The reason why we used him as an example is because everything he does is about goals. Every move that he makes, everything that he does, his first thought is ‘Where is the opposition’s goal?’ That mentality is one of the things that makes him what he is.”
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As well as reaching the last four of the competition, United are also second in the Championship table and knowing that one more win will guarantee them a return to the top-flight next term. City are chasing a historic treble, as they look to defend their top-flight title and win the Champions League for the first time.
“Guardiola has had a massive influence on all football,” Heckingbottom said. “His time at Barcelona, I can see how it’s influenced coaches in the UK and even in terms of how the qualifications are delivered. You see it with Sunday league and grass roots coaches. They use the same terminology and talk about trying to do the same things. There’s things you can analyse and learn from but it’s also important to have your own identity.”