Paul Heckingbottom has ruled himself out of being Sheffield United manager beyond this season.
Heckingbottom has been given the role until the end of the 2020/21 campaign after the departure of Chris Wilder.
It was announced that Wilder had left the club on Saturday in a statement which also laid out the managerial plans for the rest of this term.
Heckingbottom has stepped up from his role as Under-23s boss, while Alan Knill remains as assistant. Former Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall is also being brought in to help out.
Yet while Tindall may have ambitions of remaining in charge beyond this season, Heckingbottom very much views his position as temporary.
“It’s a big opportunity in terms of working with players and responsibility in terms of looking after this football club after such a great manager and someone I consider a friend,” the 43-year-old told BBC Radio Sheffield after the 5-0 Premier League defeat to Leicester City. “But that’s as far as I go with it.
“You’ve all seen the press release that’s gone out. I’m doing it until the end of the season, or until I’m told otherwise. That’s it and that’s my focus.
“My focus is solely to the players and I feel a big responsibility towards them. Because I know where they are right now and I know what they went through. But I can’t let them feel sorry for themselves, because whoever the next manager is they’ll be watching right now.”
Difficult task for Heckingbottom at Sheffield United
The Blades put in arguably their worst performance since before Wilder was appointed in 2016 in Heckingbottom’s first game in charge.
Leicester were ruthless at the King Power Stadium, while United looked devoid of ideas and confidence.
Yet it is difficult to judge Heckingbottom considering he didn’t even know he would be at the match until Saturday evening. He also had no time with the players before taking over from Wilder.
They too have clearly been affected by the weekend’s events; which is understandable.
The majority of them have risen through the divisions under Wilder. The likes of Chris Basham, John Fleck and Billy Sharp have been there since the start, enjoying two promotions and a ninth place finish in the top flight with the 53-year-old as boss.
Whoever gets the job on a long-term basis will have extremely big shoes to fill. But that person won’t be Heckingbottom.