Relegated Blades look to Norwich template for encouragement

Interim manager Heckingbottom insists there will be no shortage of takers to try to lead the club back to the Premier League
Relegated Blades look to Norwich template for encouragement

DOWN AND OUT: A dejected David McGoldrick following confirmation of Sheffield United's relegation from the Premier League.  Picture: Catherine Ivill/PA Wire.

Wolves 1 Sheffield Utd 0

While there was a certain inevitability about the way Sheffield United were relegated, their interim manager Paul Heckingbottom insists there will be no shortage of takers to try to lead the club back to the Premier League.

With six games remaining, United became the joint quickest club to be relegated from the Premier League with this loss - Willian Jose struck in the 59th minute– his first goal in English football, and at the 13th attempt.

Heckingbottom agreed the goal summed up Sheffield’s season but doesn’t believe their exit after two seasons in the top flight will deter candidates from wanting the managerial vacancy.

“It’s 100 per cent a great job – it’s a fantastic club just come down from Premier League with a great bunch of players and a big desire to get straight back,” he said.

“Those opportunities don’t come around very often, so people will be queuing up and knocking the door down to present themselves as the right man to bring Sheffield United right back. Why wouldn’t it be?” 

Heckingbottom believes a quick appointment would benefit everyone concerned but it might be problematic following the resignation of chairman Prince Musaad Bin Khalid Al on Friday night.

“I’m not making the decision, but I think it makes sense to make a quick appointment,” he added. “There may be lots of reasons why that might not be the case. If you want a fresh start, to reinvigorate things, I would expect as soon as the season is finished that announcements will be made.

“From a manager’s point of view next season, whoever it is, they will want to be involved in that. They will want to know the players they are working with and to be involved in recruitment.

“So I would certainly expect an appointment as soon as possible after the end of the season.” 

Many of the players have been at Bramall Lane since their days in League One and Heckingbottom believes United’s best chance of an immediate return will be to keep the squad intact.

“We need to keep the core of the group together,” he said. “The club has had the financial benefits of two seasons in the Premier League, which is good.” 

Norwich City secured an immediate return to the Premier League when they were promoted on Saturday. Heckingbottom sees the Canaries’ template as one to emulate.

“Norwich have had a real clear way of how they wanted to achieve things,” he said. “They were adamant they were going to recruit players, develop them, sell for a profit and play a certain style of football. I wholeheartedly agree with that approach, that’s what gives Norwich a competitive advantage. It’s good management, good direction and good strategy.

“We can all talk about it, but the skill is in doing it. It’s harder in practice than writing it down on a piece of paper.

“Everyone has to work in a selfless way to achieve that. No-one can be the one wanting to be in front of the camera and take all the adulation when things are going well and then expect someone else to do it when they are not.” 

Heckingbottom also believes Norwich’s example of gaining promotion as quickly as possible has to be the goal.

“This incredible journey started four or five years ago at the bottom end of League One,” he said. “The club us in a much better position, financially stronger, a lot more experience within the squad. So everyone will be committed to coming straight back up.

“You look at Norwich; Watford are right up there, Bournemouth are on a fantastic run into the play-off places and they are the three teams that went down last season.” 

Wolves head coach Nuno Espirito Santo felt sorry for United but delighted for Jose finally getting off the mark.

“It’s a sad day, but I am sure they will bounce back,” he said. “It was very important for Willian. He joined us halfway through the season and it was hard for him but he’s helped the team. The goal will boost his confidence.” 

WOLVES (3-4-3): Patrício 7; Saïss 6, Coady 6, Boly 7; Semedo 7, Dendoncker 7, Moutinho 6, Aït-Nouri 6; Traoré 8, Podence 7 (Vitinha 72 mins 6), Jose 7 (Silva 77 mins, 6).

Subs not used: Hoever, Gibbs-White, Ruddy, Richards, Kilman, Otasowie, Corbeanu.

SHEFF UTD (3-5-2): Ramsdale 6; Ampadu 5 (Bogle 83 mins, 6), Egan 6, Bryan 5; Baldock 5, Osborn 6 (Mousset 75 mins 6), Norwood 6, Fleck 5, Stevens 7; Brewster 5 (Burke 75 mins 6), McGoldrick 5.

Subs not used: Lundstram, Lowe, Jagielka, Foderingham, Brunt, Gordon.

Referee: Robert Jones 7/10.

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