Sheffield United: Arguments, fines and bloody training sessions – how Paul Heckingbottom changed things behind the scenes
Half of Paul Heckingbottom’s team weren’t happy. And they made it known to the technical staff. While being teased and then encouraged by the rest of their teammates.
“There’s a real hunger there,” said Chris Basham, admitting that bickering, bickering and disagreements are now commonplace at Shirecliffe. “If you don’t win your eleven-a-side matches and we like to have one as regularly as possible, you end up doing push-ups or something quite similar. So if you lose you’re pretty hacked. But if you come out on the right side, well, that’s a very good feeling.
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Returning to a formation which, while not mirroring the one Chris Wilder employed en route to two promotions before leaving 10 months ago following a disagreement with the board, has a number of similarities is frequently cited . So, with Heckingbottom benefiting from a guarding spell last term, it’s the fact that he already knows the personalities of those under his command.
Although Basham insists that none of these are responsible, he admitted that the latter is closer to the truth.
Jokanovic, by his own admission, was obsessed with tactics, patterns and repetition – with members of the Fulham and Watford teams he led to the top flight describing how drills formed the heart of their daily routines.
Heckingbottom is also interested in science, strategies and loads of data. But, according to Basham, he combines them with ideas that many Sunday and non-league players would probably recognize.
“We get fines every day in training now,” said the centre-half. “They are £10 and £5 if you lose. I collect them so it’s all good for me.
“It’s really a bit of fun, and all the money will either go to charity or a round robin for some of the training ground staff who look after us, because the skipper (Billy Sharp) always organizes one of those every year.
“Basically the idea is just to make sure we have that game-winning mentality.”
United were due to appear at Deepdale on Boxing Day, before the game was rearranged at the behest of North End when they told the EFL a Covid-19 outbreak meant they lacked the necessary number of players . Games against Hull City, Middlesbrough and Queens Park Rangers have also been scrapped over the Christmas and New Year period, meaning United will run through the Pennines in 14th despite making their first three league outings under Heckingbottom before Saturday’s defeat at Derby County.
“We had three wins to start, and one in Slav’s last game, so it was a real kick in the teeth to have them canceled,” Basham said. “But we just have to get on with it now.”