Paul Heckingbottom has insisted the support from Sheffield United’s board “is there” over his position after Sunday’s 8-0 hammering at home to Newcastle United. The Blades travel to West Ham this weekend still looking for their first win of the season and with Heckingbottom’s role under outside scrutiny.
The first question marks were raised by a national newspaper report that suggested he was on the brink after losing 2-1 at Tottenham, before Sunday’s Newcastle humiliation only intensified the speculation. Heckingbottom revealed that he spoke with owner Prince Abdullah shortly after the game, which he says “capped off a tough week” after the passing of women’s player and marketing executive Maddy Cusack.
“While we want it to be a one-off performance and an outlying result and performance, we have to reflect on it properly,” Heckingbottom said. “There are some things there that are big reminders. For the first 20-25 minutes we were good and probably the better team but we could have improved in those moments. We know the margins are so fine and we know how well we have to play to get the wins, we have to be that critical of ourselves. In the second half, we made changes to chase the game. But there were still things we can't allow to happen again.”
Heckingbottom also spoke to chief executive Stephen Bettis soon after the Magpies defeat, which left his side with one point from their first six games and bottom of the Premier League table with a minus-12 goal difference. “Prince Abdullah was on the phone to me straight after the game, we speak regularly. That's not an issue,” Heckingbottom added.
“The support's there. I spoke with Stephen as well. That's not my concern, that's not my job. My job is this building and the unity within it. We understand we have to be better, we are all in agreement on that. We have to be one of the teams who've suffered this defeat before and used it to achieve our goal, which is to stay in this league.”