Paul Heckingbottom believed that Sheffield United’s 1-0 loss to Wolves summed up their season after their relegation to the Championship was confirmed.
United have known their fate for some time but now it is official. They have matched the record for the joint-lowest number of games taken to go down in a Premier League season. There will still be six games to play before their time in the top flight ends.
Interim boss Heckingbottom has tried to steady a sinking ship in recent weeks but knew as soon as he took the reins that the club were already preparing for next season in the second tier.
Heckingbottom now wants to see the group he has inherited go down with their heads held high.
He told Sky Sports: “It’s about results, isn’t it? The only thing we can control is the performance.
“We have to go out with our head held high. I think we should have certainly got something from the game. It probably typifies our season.
“You only have to look at the physical data from the Premier League this season. It’s not through a lack of effort. They will give everything and you saw it again tonight.
“It was that one moment. We gave Wolves their best chances. We got into too many good positions not to score.
“We were on top. Everyone could see that in the second half. We created our best moment then 20 seconds later the ball was in the back of the net. This season that has got away from the team and that is why we have suffered.
“It’s those moments. The little bit of quality that need to be there to win games. At the other end, being a little too open and being able to shut those chances out.
“Those are the moments Sheffield United have been really strong [in the past]. But if you pick a game to typify this season, it was that.
“We were on top, missed chances and this league won’t give you a second chance.”
Heckingbottom hopes Blades bounce back
It is likely someone else will be in charge at Bramall Lane next season, but Heckingbottom was still able to offer the club some words of advice for the future.
He continued: “It’s not for me to say on TV on what I think [needs to be learned]. But there has to be a mentality to get straight back.
“You have to keep the group of players together and look to build and enjoy the challenges of what will be another tough season in the Championship.
“They had to fight, dig deep and gather promotion to get out that league. It’s really difficult.
“Make sure the group is as strong as it can possibly be. That’s what everyone wants and it has to be at the forefront of everyone’s minds now.
“Everyone wants to play in this league. You need to get promoted and that’s everyone’s driving force.”