Why Sheffield United must change history in order to regain their Premier League status at the first attempt
and live on Freeview channel 276
United enter tonight’s game against Brighton and Hove Albion knowing their fate is already sealed following a miserable campaign at Bramall Lane.
On the previous two occasions United have been demoted from the top-flight, it has taken them 12 seasons to return; even sliding into League One before beginning their rapid rise through the divisions under Heckingbottom’s predecessor Chris Wilder
Invited to help shape United’s response to this latest set-back, Heckingbottom insisted a forensic analysis of what worked and what didn’t is the key to ensuring United regain their membership of English football’s most exclusive competition.
Citing the preservation of the identity they forged under Wilder as being of the utmost importance, Heckingbottom said: “Hopefully it won’t be as long this time. We have to learn from what happened those other times and act upon it. Because it’s easy to talk. It’s actually the ‘doing’ bit that’s key.
“We don’t want, obviously, for it to be as long as last time.”
“We have to identify what worked well, what went well and look at the hunger of the group and the style of play that thrived at Bramall Lane. If we recognise that, and then articulate it again, then we can start recruiting off the back of that.”
Like Wilder, who parted company with United last month following a series of disagreements behind the scenes, Heckingbottom has urged the board to retain the overwhelming majority of the squad which finished last weekend’s visit to Wolverhampton Wanderers 19 points adrift of safety with only six matches remaining.
Some departures, he acknowledged following the defeat at Molineux, are inevitable. But after observing the side he inherited from Wilder at close quarters, Heckingbottom does not believe a major overhaul is necessary when a permanent appointment is made.
“What we’ve also got to do is create a really hungry group of young players, which I believe we’ve got, and then make sure they have the potential to add to the group,” he said.