The era of Paul Heckingbottom has arrived and we are slowly getting to know the character of Yorkshireman. His honest and straight talking press conferences have already won him some admirers and the fact he’s trying new players and formations even more. Yesterday he told the Sky cameras, there will be “nowhere to hide” for players under him as he makes this very clear to every one of them.
He was referring, in that moment to the two throw-ins that cost us the first two goals. It was horrible to watch the two goals go in and you can only imagine how frustrating that is for a head-coach who has been working on it during the week just to see it unfold in the first 15 minutes. Heckingbottom said that players have to produce the good and not just talk about it, and three of them got a kick up the backside with the team selection alone. Kemar Roofe, who came on and played very good off Pierre-Michel Lasogga, getting the equaliser, Kalvin Phillips who arrived late on and Gjanni Alioski who didn’t even get off the bench were all dropped after terrible performances away at Sheffield United and we haven’t seen that all season, players benched for underperforming.
When asked about Jack Clarke and Tom Pearce (youth team players) he said he doesn’t just hand out debuts for the sake of it, he plays players who earn it and players who proved they deserve a chance will get that chance under him. He has already played two different formations from the 4-2-3-1 that teams expect from us but he may well be forced to go back into that style with Samu Saiz back and ready to go on Wednesday at Derby County. IT wouldn’t surprise me if he went with a different team again on Wednesday so he can get used to players who haven’t maybe had the minutes yet, dropping any who weren’t good enough yesterday. The likes of Matthew Pennington and Felix Wiedwald, even Caleb Ekuban and definitely Eunan O’Kane will be wondering if they have done enough to keep their places after last night. On the flipside Vurnon Anita and Hadi Sacko may find themselves with another chance come kick-off at Derby.
There have been too many players underperforming and getting away with it this season and they won’t be able to now. It was getting frustrating to say the least, the same formation and tactics, the same players and the same results. Now we know that Heckingbottom will change things up if it isn’t going our way and will drop anyone who isn’t performing. when he said there will be “nowhere to hide” you know he means it and individually players will become responsible for any errors. They responded well to the crowd last night and most of them will start on Wednesday but with a few players returning who will expect to play it’s a big time for the squad, because the players who don’t perform have been warned, by Heckingbottom and Andrea Radrizzani that if they don’t raise their game they won’t be here next season.