Sheffield United saw off Luton Town yesterday, winning 2-0 at Bramall Lane, but manager Paul Heckingbottom was forced to explain a couple of his substitutions in the second period.
The Blades boss opted to take Rhian Brewster off first. The forward made way for Sander Berge, despite looking a threat all day and scoring the opener. Following that, Heckingbottom also took off Iliman Ndiaye as the Blades looked to comfortably see the game out against the Hatters.
However, there was clear frustration from some of the Bramall Lane faithful, in particular, at Brewster’s withdrawal.
But speaking after the game, Heckingbottom offered a clear explanation for his decision, and insisted that both Brewster and Ndiaye need to be in better shape to complete 90 minutes.
“He (Brewster) has just returned from a long-term hamstring injury. He’s got more minutes today and we’re pushing him hard in training. So that was the reason for the substitution,” Heckingbottom said.
“It was the same with Iliman. He’d got a bit of cramp. And if I’m honest, I thought they were both a bit leggy today. We want more. We want them better than they were today. They were good and showed in flashes. But we still want more from them and they’re miles away from where we think they can get. The reason for the sub was they’re not as fit so from my point of view you need to get fitter, need to work harder.”
Our View: Heckingbottom Explanations Refreshing
There was clear frustration inside Bramall Lane when Brewster was taken off. The former Liverpool striker was looking sharp and probably could have had another goal. But, Heckingbottom’s explanation is spot on really.
Both Ndiaye and Brewster are the future for Sheffield United. But they do need to keep putting the graft in and if the manager feels they’re not fit enough, then it’s down to them both to keep pushing.
Regardless, this wasn’t a criticism really from Hecky. It was more laying down a challenge to two players he clearly feels he can get more out of. And that, ultimately, can only be good news for Sheffield United.