Paul Heckingbottom not focussing on play-off rivals after ‘big’ Blades win

Sheffield United could seal a play-off place if Middlesbrough and Blackburn fail to win.

By Press Association Published: 29 April 2022 - 10.20pm

Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom insisted he will not be paying attention to his side’s play-off rivals on Saturday.

The 3-1 victory at QPR means the Blades’ play-off place could be sealed if Middlesbrough and Blackburn fail to win.

However, Heckingbottom said he intends to switch off from football and not sweat over things that are out of their control.

“I’ll have a day out with the wife tomorrow. If I have any football on my life won’t be worth living,” Heckingbottom joked.

He added: “It’s out of our hands. I want to be able to unwind and relax and then be ready to go on Monday.

“It’s as important to unwind mentally as it is physically. We need to recover. It’s a long season and hopefully we can extend it and make it a bit longer.”

United came from behind after Charlie Austin’s first-half header gave Rangers the lead.

Iliman Ndiaye equalised and Jack Robinson put the visitors ahead before Conor Hourihane’s stoppage-time goal sealed the win.

“Big win. Big performance,” Heckingbottom said.

“We looked a good side in the first half but not like winners. We controlled the game but weren’t ruthless. QPR got in our box twice and ended up scoring.

“It’s about what happens in both boxes. Everything that happens in between is propaganda, isn’t it? Fluff.

“We want to pass the ball and move it quickly. But we want a group of players who can score at one end and keep clean sheets at the other.

“We needed more and we got it. It was a good win and a good fightback.”

QPR manager Mark Warburton thanked the club’s fans for the reception they gave him in his final home match in charge.

A horrendous run of results cost Rangers a play-off place – and Warburton his job. He is not being retained when his contract expires at the end of the season.

Warburton said: “The crowd have been fantastic. It’s very gratefully received and never taken for granted.

“For three years they’ve been outstanding. The support they’ve given us has been first class throughout and I can only speak with the highest praise for QPR fans.

“A manager’s job is to leave a club in a better place. I’m very happy with the reception from the fans and the comments that they’ve made which suggests they are happy with the progress made.”

Warburton expressed some frustration that his players only heard about his axing when it was announced by the club on Thursday.

“The first people who should have found out should have been the players,” he said.

“Myself and the staff have a very close relationship with them. They have to be shown respect and trust and they reciprocate.

“So it’s very difficult when that comes out. There were a lot of phone calls last night, which you have to try and fend off but you also have to be honest with them.

“It was difficult. I’m not going to lie. But it’s football and we have to learn from it and we have to move on. That’s gone now.”

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