Paul Heckingbottom said that Sheffield United still have lessons to learn as they edged closer to the end of their time in the Premier League.
United suffered a 2-0 defeat at Bramall Lane to Crystal Palace on Saturday afternoon. It means they are practically guaranteed to finish bottom of the table as they prepare to return to the Championship. They had a few chances against Palace but couldn’t take them.
Interim manager Heckingbottom has tried to steady a sinking ship but was undone on the day by goals from Christian Benteke and Eberechi Eze.
Heckingbottom agreed that the better team won.
“The way Palace play and the way they counter, the early goal set up the game really,” he said.
While Palace secured their Premier League safety as a result, United have long been resigned to their fate. They will be playing in the Championship next season.
Still, there are lessons for them to learn and many of their players – plus interim boss Heckingbottom himself – will have points to prove.
“Feeling’s been there for weeks. You’re always playing for something, your future,” Heckingbottom said. “There’s a lot you can learn from players and they can learn from the situation.
“It’s a tough situation, no denying that. You have to attack it. Boys showed willingness to fight and attack it.
“Changed how we played in the second half but couldn’t score the goals. While you’re behind, you’re still vulnerable to that counter.”
The Blades have only won one of their last nine games between the Premier League and FA Cup. It seems they won’t be heading into the summer with momentum behind them, but Heckingbottom isn’t too concerned.
“We want momentum but it’s a totally different set of teams next season,” he explained.
“No concerns, but not to say it’s not important to pick up points in the next three games.”
Hodgson happy about survival
Meanwhile, Roy Hodgson said he was “delighted” to have confirmed Crystal Palace’s Premier League safety and was full of praise for Eberechi Eze.
“Yes, very pleased. Not really been worried about it,” he said.
“But you’re quite right, nice to get over that mark. Delighted today.”
Next season will be their ninth consecutive one in the top flight. Hodgson is glad that many players have stuck with them for large parts of that journey.
“I agree entirely,” he said. “What’s more, we’ve done it with a group of players who have been very faithful, very loyal to the club.
“An awful lot of players we’re grateful for, incredible effort.
“The club has wanted to invest more, help out, but we haven’t been able to do that. Let’s hope now that will come about and we’ll get a bit of a boost with new faces like we have done with Eberechi Eze.”
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