The Sunday Post (Newcastle)
Blades told to perform for ‘new manager’
Paul Heckingbottom has reminded Sheffield United’s players the club’s next manager is watching their performances during what remains of the season.
Speaking as the Blades’ relegation from the Premier League edges closer, Heckingbottom would like to see an upturn in results in the eight matches that are left so that some sort of positivity is carried into next season.
Placed in charge of the first team last month following Chris Wilder’s departure, the Under-23 coach will stay in the job until the end of May, by which time the club’s board are likely to have identified a permanent successor.
Former Watford and Fulham boss Slavisa Jokanovic, currently in charge of Al-Gharafa in Qatar, and Oostende head coach Alexander Blessin are both reported to be under consideration to replace Wilder.
Whoever the new man is, Heckingbottom insists he will be using performances between now and the end of the season to shape his decisionmaking for next season.
“Everyone is watching all the time,” said Heckinbottom ahead of today’s home game against Arsenal.
“Whoever the manager is next season, they are going to be watching this game and the ones we’ve got left. What happens during those, they are going to be using that to help them make decisions.
“So that’s why, no matter what the situation is, it is always vital that you perform. It’s about the bigger picture, we have to prepare for next season in terms of building a mentality.
“We have to try look after performances in the here and now, and that starts with Arsenal on Sunday.”
Mikel Arteta believes Arsenal have a “responsibility” to deliver European football for next season.
Mid-table Arsenal are locked at 1-1 at the midway point of their Europa League quarter-final with Slavia Prague, leaving their European ambitions for next season hanging in the balance.
Asked if he feels personal pressure to steer Arsenal into European competition next season, Arteta replied: “It is not pressure – it is our responsibility.
“The club we represent has high demands and that is the minimum we can ask for.”