Paul Heckingbottom happy as Sheffield United book play-off spot on their terms

They will face Nottingham Forest next.

By Press Association Published: 7 May 2022 - 3.16pm

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom saluted his players after they secured a play-off place with a 4-0 victory over champions Fulham.

They were 3-0 up after 25 minutes following goals from Morgan Gibbs-White, Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge, with Enda Stevens rounding off the scoring early in the second half.

The flying start helped calm any nerves which may have come from the congested play-off picture in the Championship.

And, in the end, it was a celebratory afternoon for the Blades who can now prepare to face Nottingham Forest in the play-offs after late drama in their game at Hull momentarily had United facing Huddersfield.

“The main thing was getting there,” Heckingbottom said. “We wanted to do it our way. We didn’t want to be thinking about results elsewhere.

“To do that, you’ve got to focus on your performance and do things right. The boys were good.

“I’ve said all along that we’ve got good players. We can’t win every game – we know we’ll not – but we’ve extended the season, which is great and what we all wanted.

“We couldn’t have done much more in terms of being aggressive, stopping Fulham, trying to play forward quick, creating chances and we scored the goals.

“We’ll celebrate being in the play-offs and we’ll enjoy it, however we haven’t won anything and haven’t achieved anything. We’ve got more to do.”

Looking ahead to facing Forest, he added: “You’ve got one half here and one half away. We know each other well. They will be huge games. It’ll be a full house here and then roles reversed away at the City Ground.”

For Fulham it was a game too far after a celebratory season, which ends with them as champions and 90 points, as well as 106 goals.

“It wasn’t the way we wanted to finish the season. It was a tough result for us,” boss Marco Silva said.

“We started well and dominated until they scored the first goal. The way we conceded the second and third goals reflects our performance.

“It is a good thing that in the last 15 days we had two moments to celebrate. The players deserve it.

“With the ball, we were really good in certain moments of the game but without the ball it was not good enough. We were not aggressive enough – most of the challenges they won.

“In terms of organisation, we were not at the level we should be and of course they punished us in those moments.

“I know why we lost the game, and we have to analyse the game and to prepare well ourselves for next season.

“In my opinion, it is a really important moment for this football club next season.”

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