With United yet to appoint Chris Wilder’s permanent successor, a month after parting company with the 53-year-old, Heckingbottom is expected to remain in caretaker charge until the end of the campaign when a final decision will be made.
Despite being in a state of flux off the pitch, as Bramall Lane’s hierarchy consider the applications and credentials of those vying to replace arguably the most successful manager in recent history, Heckingbottom has reminded the squad he inherited five matches ago that a loss off focus on it could have huge consequences.
“We need to put in the performances we can do, because it’s everyone’s careers that are at stake,” he said. “I’ve always made it clear, whoever comes in, they are going to be watching. They’ll see what goes on and what happens. Even if that’s not in real time, they’ll sit down and go back through everything, take a view and then make decisions based on that view.
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“So there is still so much at stake. The people who stay, there are going to want to be involved and they will want to start off under someone on the right foot. First impressions are important, as everybody knows. They’re not the only thing that count. But they are important.”
United left Molineux 19 points adrift of safety with only half a dozen fixtures left to play after Willian Jose scored the only goal of the contest on the hour. They return to action against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday, before visiting Tottenham Hotspur a week later.
“How we present ourselves going forward is going to be important as well,” Heckingbottom acknowledged. “That’s something we can control and influence.
“The rest, well it’s out of our hands now. We can’t do anything about that. But we can control what happens during those games and how we go about our business. They are important, make no mistake about that.”