Burnley can provide template for Sheffield United to follow – Paul Heckingbottom

Sheffield United v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – London Stadium
(Image credit: Tim Goode)

Sheffield United interim boss Paul Heckingbottom believes Burnley provide a good example to follow as the club look to bounce back from Premier League relegation.

The Blades, who will finish bottom of the table, conclude a miserable season at home to the Clarets on Sunday, when fans will be allowed back into Bramall Lane for the first time since March 2020.

Their opponents Burnley, however, are set for a sixth successive top-flight campaign, having returned to the Premier League in 2016.

That has come after Sean Dyche’s side made an immediate return following relegation, with the Blades looking to do the same next season.

Heckingbottom feels Burnley offer a good template to follow ahead of the final-day meeting between the clubs.

“Yes 100 per cent they do,” said Heckingbottom. “If you are talking playing-wise and the squad, yes the evidence is there – teams who come up generally struggle but next season you can build on that and be stronger.

“Nobody wanted this to happen but we’ve had two seasons in the Premier League and we have to make the most of that.

“Burnley have a clear identity and clear way of playing and are now a well-established Premier League team and have started building their infrastructure and squad and have a fantastic new training facility that will be there forever.

“There has to be a legacy for being in the Premier League and that’s my point – we have to build on these two years. There has to be some proof of your time in the Premier League.

“We should be in a stronger position now than the season when we went up. We need to keep building on and off the pitch and you can be exactly like Burnley and established in the Premier league.”

Sunday’s match will be the first played at Bramall Lane in front of supporters since March 7 last year, when the Blades beat Norwich 1-0 to continue their challenge for a place in Europe.

Despite a difficult season, Heckingbottom insists the players want to play in front of the fans.
He said: “No-one is shirking it, they all want to play the last game of the season.

“It’s been tough, and we’ve missed them this season. We are one of the team that’s suffered playing without fans, without a doubt.

“I remember the Manchester City game when Oli McBurnie flattened (Ruben) Dias and the place would have gone up. Instead there was a squeal from Dias, a yellow card for Oli and the place was flat again. We are looking forward to having the fans back in.”

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