Paul Heckingbottom feels Sheffield United can use Sunday’s humiliation at the hands of Newcastle United to help their season provided they deal with it properly. The Blades fell to the bottom of the Premier League table on goal difference following an 8-0 defeat at Bramall Lane to Eddie Howe’s Magpies.
It was definitely the lowest point of Heckingbottom’s rule and in recent memory, with United’s previous largest margin of loss being one goal. Eight days previously, the Blades lead Spurs in injury time but looked a shadow of that side against Howe’s men, who ran riot with eight different scorers to make a mockery of doubts about how they would perform following their midweek break
Heckingbottom had never been on the receiving end of a similar scoreline as a player or manager, but he does have some precedent in the form of Bournemouth and Southampton. Last season, the Cherries were thrashed 9-0 by Liverpool but recovered to avoid relegation, but Southampton experienced the same scoreline twice in recent seasons before dropping to the Championship at the end of the previous campaign. What counts now, ahead of United’s trip to West Ham this weekend, is how they recover from their own humiliation.at Spurs going into injury time, but they looked like a shell of that team against Howe’s men, who ran riot with eight different scorers to make a mockery of doubts about how they would perform after the break
“It can happen,” Heckingbottom warned, his setback still fresh in his mind. “I remember Bournemouth and Southampton going on and performing well, so it can only be a positive and a one-off fluke if you learn from it.” We planned for days like this and the contrary, when our best isn’t always enough, which can be difficult to deal with. This game will not define our season, but if we use it well, it may help to develop it. But it’s critical that we treat it correctly.”
After United’s 8-0 thrashing of Newcastle, Egan responds to Hecky’s future question.
Heckingbottom was composed and calm in front of the cameras – one member of the national media later remarked that an untrained eye would have struggle to tell which manager had won 8-0 and which had lost – but there were some raised voices and tempers in the dressing room afterwards. Others remained quiet, attempting to comprehend the enormity of what had just occurred.
“Listen, we’re trying to speed up learning,” Heckingbottom continued. “We’re trying to speed things up, so it’s critical that the senior boys step up.” They realize what we’re attempting. We had a lot of turnover over the summer, so we need to use the second half to make sure that everyone who is new, who is trying to get into the team, or who is on the squad but is new, understands that that is not us and that is no longer how we play. Dropping below your standards against a top side is never a harder lesson, because that is what might happen.
“Not my day,” Anel says of Manchester United’s “embarrassing” defeat to Newcastle.
“Everyone in the building has been there long enough to be judged by the same criteria. We’ve been settling in, and people still need to settle in, but we still need results and to compete. While we’ve done work for the club’s future, we still want to compete. It’s in all of us; it’s how we were created. We don’t show up to squander a game. Everyone will be judged by the same standards from now on, and if there are only 15 at the levels, only 15 will be chosen.”