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Paddy Kenny delivers verdict on claims about Paul Heckingbottom at Sheffield United

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Ex-Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny is delighted that Paul Heckingbottom’s training sessions remind Oliver Norwood of the levels they were at under Chris Wilder, speaking to Football Insider.

44-year-old Heckingbottom was appointed as manager late last month after predecessor Slavisa Jokanovic’s dismissal, with the latter enduring an underwhelming start to the 2021/22 campaign with the Blades after seeing his side fail to adapt well enough to his system.

A switch in system and a draw and a win in his final two games as manager wasn’t enough to save his job though, perhaps reverting to a back three far too late as they remained stuck in a lower midtable position, failing to gain any sort of consistency in the starting lineup and on the pitch.

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However, the Serbian did give Heckingbottom a platform to build on after taking four points from six after the international break, with the South Yorkshire side’s current boss coming in and winning his opening two games in charge.

Many United fans have already noticed changes in their side though, with morale in the camp at an all-time high after getting themselves back on track, looking comfortable in their current system as they look to sustain their current charge towards the play-offs.

Northern Irishman Norwood, who has started both games under his new boss, even went on to make comparisons between Heckingbottom and promotion-winning boss Wilder, citing the levels of intensity in training as a similarity between the pair’s tenures.

This is music to former Blade Kenny’s ears, saying to Football Insider: “We have seen that improvement since Heckingbottom was appointed.

“I’m sure the lads were gutted to see the game against QPR called off, they will have wanted to keep going and keep that momentum going.

“It sounds like the new blueprint is to copy Wilder and you love to hear that. That is what worked for them in the past so there is no reason to not do it now.

“We have already seen the results and if Wilder’s presence is still felt by that squad it can only be good news for Sheffield United.

“I’ve been looking at the table and we could have been up to eighth or something with a win.

“Everyone still thinks it’s been a rubbish season. As daft as it sounds, we aren’t far off if we just continue this form.”

The Verdict:

Wilder enjoyed a very successful spell at the club, so if Heckingbottom has similar traits, that can only be a good sign for a side that struggled to adapt to life under Jokanovic.

More movement in the summer transfer window, both in and out, was needed to make the Serbian’s time at the club a success but that didn’t happen and the 53-year-old was left with a squad that didn’t fit his style.

It’s just a shame he didn’t play a back three throughout his time at Bramall Lane because he would have managed to get more points on the board and would probably still be in his job now.

But after seeing how much the intensity has ramped up since their current manager’s arrival, perhaps the 53-year-old’s departure was meant to be, because there wasn’t a huge amount of hope at the club towards the end of his tenure despite him winning promotion to the Premier League with two different clubs in the past.

And it’s clear the South Yorkshire outfit are enjoying life under Heckingbottom – but how long that will last remains to be seen. The early signs are promising though.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Paddy Kenny delivers verdict on claims about Paul Heckingbottom at Sheffield United

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