Paul Heckingbottom has thrown his backing behind under-fire star Anel Ahmedhodzic, insisting he is “really pleased” with the defender despite acknowledging he “wasn’t at his best” in Sheffield United’s 8-0 humbling at the hands of Newcastle United on Sunday. The Bosnia and Herzegovina international described the result as “embarrassing”, admitting: “It was not my day.”
The defender could not do enough to prevent first-half goals from Sean Longstaff and Dan Burn, with question marks over his defending for Anthony Gordon’s strike in the second-half amongst others. Ahmedhodzic, along with the rest of United’s defenders, has struggled at times this season, with the Blades conceding three times more goals from crosses so far than any of their Premier League rivals.
But Heckingbottom is set to keep faith with the Bosnian and his skipper John Egan, ahead of this weekend’s trip to West Ham United at the London Stadium. “Anel wasn’t at his best at the weekend but prior to that he’s been very good this season,” said Heckingbottom before making the trip to the capital. “We’ve been really pleased with him. I won’t let you guys start talking about the season and defining it in one game. He’s been good, to this point.”
Heckingbottom refused to suger-coat his side’s performance against the Magpies, as the Blades travel to the capital still looking for their first win of the season. “Everyone dipped in that game,” he added. “No-one will have come away happy with their performance. You’re not going to get a defeat like that in any type of good manner. Whenever anyone suffers a heavy defeat, there’s no way you can say it’s acceptable. If you’ve lost 8-0 there’s always going to be things that shouldn’t happen on a football pitch. That’s it.
“We have to be clear on what they are, and we have been, but that’s no different an approach to what we did against Spurs or Man City. There are always things we want to do better in games, I don’t think you’d ever be able to say that losing in that way, regardless of who you’re playing or how well they play, we can’t afford for those things to happen again.”