Heckingbottom rues Sheff Utd mistakes, says what needed to change

Samuel Bannister

Paul Heckingbottom blasted the way Sheffield United lost the ball against Tottenham and said “nothing has changed” as regards his own future.

A miserable campaign for the Blades continued with a 4-0 defeat to Tottenham. Gareth Bale scored a hat-trick and Son Heung-min added the final goal to compound the disappointment. United may not have expected much from the game but will have wanted to make a better impression than they did.

Heckingbottom guided his side to a rare win in their fixture against Brighton last weekend. But they were brought straight back down to earth with defeat in London.

Spurs were clinical on the counter attack but Heckingbottom believed his side played into their hands.

He told the BBC: “We got punished for the second goal on the counter. The goals in the second half Spurs will think they’re ruthless on the counter, but where we lose the ball and how we concede is poor.

“We changed personnel, but it was an attitude change that was necessary.”

There was obviously a large gulf in quality between the personnel on either side. But Heckingbottom said that was no excuse.

He continued: “We’re putting it down to ourselves and how we perform. If we’re always putting it down to the opposition then we’re going to struggle.

“That is not a performance that we want to see. It was so passive and I can’t wait until the fans are back in because in a stadium like this it’s absolutely dead. We tried to generate our own atmosphere in the second half but the game ran away from us.”

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One of the biggest talking points in the game was when John Fleck avoided a red card after standing on Giovani Lo Celso’s face. There was a VAR check but no punishment followed.

Spurs interim boss Ryan Mason was angry with that call, but opposite number Heckingbottom had no comment.

He said: “I’ve not seen the VAR or any replays so I’ll just have to trust VAR that they got it right. There’s no hiding place any more in football.”

Nothing has changed for Heckingbottom

Heckingbottom is also in charge on an interim basis but the club recently confirmed he is one of the candidates for the permanent role.

He has maintained ever since that it won’t affect his outlook, and reiterated that stance afterwards.

He said: “Things are no different. I know things have gone public now so in everyone else’s mind things have changed. But for myself, the players and everyone in the club, nothing has changed.”

READ MOREMason claims ‘world class’ Bale will never lose it but swerves transfer question