Sheffield United wing-back Jayden Bogle has hailed manager Paul Heckingbottom after a fast start to his permanent tenure, saying the 44-year-old has done a ‘great job’ as he spoke to the club’s media team.
Although Covid-19 postponements have disrupted their schedule, the Blades’ boss has won all three of his games in charge thus far after taking over from Slavisa Jokanovic, who had been on an unbeaten two-game run before his dismissal last month.
Though there was scepticism from some fans regarding his appointment at Bramall Lane, victories against Bristol City and Cardiff managed to get him off to the best possible start, continuing to look more comfortable in a back three and attacking with more urgency under Heckingbottom’s stewardship.
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However, their most impressive win under him so far came at Craven Cottage, taking the lead through Iliman Nidaye early on and then defending resolutely to secure the three points in the English capital, a result that has been crucial in their quest to push up the Championship table.
Although they currently sit down in 12th, this is due to their postponements and they will be looking to capitalise on these games in hand to put pressure on the likes of Queens Park Rangers, Middlesbrough and Huddersfield Town in and around the top six.
This realistic ambition has been made by United’s recent unbeaten record – and 21-year-old Bogle has provided an insight as to why they have been so successful.
He said: “The intensity coming from training and it’s taken into games – we had Hecky for a bit last season and he’s doing a great job – we’re enjoying it.
“I’m really enjoying my football at the moment, under the new management it has been great.
“There is competition all over the pitch and you need that to have success in this division.”
Ex-boss Jokanovic arguably deserved more time and more backing to succeed at Bramall Lane, but it seems as though he was too stubborn in the end and changed his formation far too late.
Up until the previous international break, the Blades were also far too inconsistent and that could partly be put down to the fact the Serbian didn’t seem to know, and almost had too many options at his disposal which caused problems.
Heckingbottom, on the other hand, managed to get off on the right foot and the fact a previously misfiring Rhian Brewster scored the first goal of his permanent reign was a promising sign of things to come.
There does seem to be much more intensity in their play under the 44-year-old and with this, they are playing to their potential much more, something they clearly weren’t under their old boss as they tried to adapt to his system and methods.
This is why the dismissal of a two-time promotion-winning manager may not prove to be a blow, but a masterstroke for a side that have seemingly been set free from their shackles and will be hoping to continue pushing for a top-six spot as 2022 approaches.