Paul Heckingbottom admitted that Sheffield United were their own worst enemies in their defeat to Yorkshire rivals Leeds United.
Heckingbottom was unable to make a winning return to Elland Road. His side fell behind via a Jack Harrison tap-in early on, but despite levelling things up just before the break, a Phil Jagielka own goal condemned them to defeat on their travels.
The Blades remain rooted to the bottom of the table as a result. With eight games to go, it would take seven points for them to even rise one place, let alone escape the drop.
The club seem to acknowledge that next season will be spent in the Championship, but still must go about these final games with the right spirit. And Heckingbottom thinks he saw the appropriate attitude – but his players made too many frustrating errors.
He told Amazon Prime: “The effort and the fight was there. There were too many moments where we lacked quality.
“We gave Leeds their best chances on the counter. That was the most frustrating thing. We came back into the game winning set pieces in good positions but then the quality wasn’t there. We were our worst enemy today.
“As the first half wore on we kept winning the ball higher up. But again, we didn’t open them up and had too many shots from distance and too many lost balls.
“In the second half it was similar, but we got opened up again when we didn’t fully commit to a break. We couldn’t quite put them under pressure.”
Heckingbottom had no blame, though, for Jagielka’s own goal that ultimately cost his side.
The defender sent the ball past Aaron Ramsdale when trying to stop a Harrison cross. Given that the ball would have likely ended up with a Leeds attacker anyway, Heckingbottom admitted his player had little choice.
He said: “You have to try and get something on it. It’s probably a goal from the striker so you have to commit to that as a defender.”
Heckingbottom following concussion protocols
Sheffield United had to take George Baldock off after he suffered from concussion after mistiming a challenge on Tyler Roberts.
Baldock initially went back onto the pitch before it became clear he could not continue. There has been much debate about what football can do to limit concussion injuries and Heckingbottom admitted there could be greater precautions – but insisted they followed the protocol.
He responded: “Probably. But as it stands, everybody follows it.
“We just happened to get two in a similar position today which was a bit of a nightmare so we had to re-jig. We accept we can’t take any chances.
“Maybe there’s things that can be done further but we need to be led by the medics on things like that. We have to abide by further concussion protocols now so we’ll know more later in the evening.”
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