Sheff Utd manager Paul Heckingbottom says no-one deserves promotion more than his players after their consistency during his 17 months in charge at Bramall Lane.
The Blades have won 45 of the 80 games he has been in charge for since succeeding Slavisa Jokanovic in 2021, reaching the Championship play-offs in his first season in charge despite taking over with the club 16th in the table.
This time, they have gone one better by sealing promotion to the Premier League with three games remaining, two years after they were relegated at the end of a disastrous season which saw them win only seven games all season – including three from 11with Heckingbottom in interim charge.
Speaking after the 2-0 win over West Brom at Bramall Lane, the 45-year-old told Sky Sports: “We’ve had 18 months at it and we’ve sustained it that length of time so no-one deserves it more than these players.
“We’ve been holding this form for a long, long time now. We were very determined internally, we didn’t shout things from the rooftops but we’ve known every day – if I’ve had a go at anyone, it’s always been because we’ve been after this. And that’s what we wanted.
“When I took over, the talk wasn’t about promotion but a big bulk of our squad have done it before, and are winners.”
The Blades were beaten on penalties by Nottingham Forest in last season’s play-off semi-finals, something Heckingbottom said he had used to channel the frustration of himself and his players to make sure they returned to the top flight 12 months on.
“I was so disappointed and angry last season. I don’t think it’ll ever go, I want to use it,” he said. “Last season we had a bigger group if you like, and I thought we had a great chance.
“I knew things might get tougher and harder behind the scenes, but the goal was always to be as good as we can be and to get to the Premier League.”
Egan: Promotion was so nice, we had to do it twice!
Blades captain John Egan was a first-team regular during the club’s last Premier League promotion push in 2019, and a major part of the side which went on to stun the division the following season to earn a ninth-placed finish despite pushing for Europe for much of the campaign.
The Irishman spoke to Sky Sports on the pitch after reaching the top flight for a second time in four years, and paid tribute to his team’s experience in making sure they secured promotion at the first time of asking.
“We trust ourselves in one-off games. First half was a bit edgy, but in the second half, our experience and quality showed. It’s memories for life with this bunch of lads,” he said.
“[Promotion] felt so nice, we had to do it twice! It’s unbelievable, we’re brothers out there and in 20 years we’ll all be looking back at what we’ve done.”
Goalscorer Sander Berge was left delighted to seal a Premier League spot in front of the Sheffield United home support, who missed more than half of their last spell in the top division during the Covid pandemic.
“We’ve worked so hard for this all year and to do it at home in front of our own crowd, is so special,” he said. “It was huge by Iliman [Ndiaye] to deliver a great ball with his calmness, and the second one was just as important.
“We want to give back to the club and fans, I came here when we were in the Premier League and now we’re back where we need to be.
“There’s a lot of players who are good at partying – maybe even better than on the pitch! But I think we’re going to town.”
Source : https://www.skysports.com/football/news/12040/12867237/sheffield-utd-promotion-no-one-deserves-premier-league-place-more-than-these-players-says-manager-paul-heckingbottom?rand=3094