Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom has revealed he wouldn’t be majorly concerned if no new players came in during the January transfer window, making this revelation to The Star.
The Blades left most of their incoming business to the late minute in the summer, being forced to start their 2021/22 campaign back in the Championship without a single new recruit and signing three of their four additions during the previous window in the last two days.
Although those additions came in to make an instant impact, with Morgan Gibbs-White establishing himself as a key cog in the South Yorkshire outfit’s machine and Conor Hourihane supplying two assists in a 3-1 away victory at Hull City in mid-September, their failure to bring players in before the latter stages of the summer arguably cost them.
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With their poor start to the season setting the tone for the rest of ex-boss Slavisa Jokanovic’s tenure, this is a lesson United will need to learn from as they approach January, with one or two key areas to address in their bid to sustain a promotion push.
They are currently just six points off the play-offs with a game in hand over most teams above them after seeing their tie against Queens Park Rangers postponed amid a Covid-19 outbreak in Mark Warburton’s camp, but will be hoping to forget about that and build on their good form after winning 10 points from a possible 12 in their last four league matches.
Heckingbottom’s men may need a couple of additions to bolster their squad as they look to have as many senior options available as possible going into the business end of the campaign, but the 44-year-old has revealed he isn’t fazed by the prospect of welcoming no new faces through the door at Bramall Lane during the winter.
Asked whether he’s preparing for that possibility, he said: “Yes.
“I can’t see that happening because everyone is in a different circumstance but that wouldn’t concern me.
“I was looking forward to working with the players. They are a good group of players so if that happened and we are where we are now then I honestly believe in that group and I don’t think we’ve seen them at their best yet.
“That’s our job to try and push and make sure we finish the season stronger than we started, so no, that wouldn’t concern me.”
You could look at his comments in two ways.
A more cynical person would say he’s doing this because there might not be a huge amount to spend during the January window and wants to avoid disagreements with the club’s board over what budget should be made available to him.
They did sell Aaron Ramsdale in a £30m deal in the summer and considering the conservative spending policy they adopted in the summer, only bringing in loans and one free agent in Adelene Guedioura so far this season. Because of this, there should be a decent amount of money for Heckingbottom to stamp his authority on his team.
However, the fact he says he wouldn’t be concerned by no arrivals will provide his players with a major confidence boost and this can only help in their quest to extend their unbeaten run, particularly important as they look set to face Fulham on Monday.
Under Jokanovic, the Blades seemed to be coasting towards January with the Serbian’s focus on making additions, which was arguably harmful to their cause. In fairness though, the 53-year-old deserved much more backing than he got.