Sander Berge ‘body blow’ discussed by under-pressure Sheffield United boss

News Desk
Paul Heckingbottom and Sander Berge in happier times
Paul Heckingbottom and Sander Berge in happier times

Paul Heckingbottom insists it is “irrelevant” to ponder the impact Sander Berge could have made for Sheffield United in the Premier League, but admits it was a body blow to lose the midfielder on the eve of the season.

The Blades travel to relegation rivals Burnley on Saturday for a reunion with Berge, who was a key figure and made more than 100 appearances during his three-and-a-half years with the club.

Berge left Bramall Lane in August to become one of 15 additions made this summer by Burnley, who spent circa £100million on transfers, but remain in the bottom three with Sheffield United ahead of this weekend’s clash.

“It’s irrelevant. It is pointless spending time on it because he’s not our player so it doesn’t matter,” Heckingbottom told a press conference.

“He’s gone, good luck to him. Great kid, good footballer. He carried himself really, really well here despite what was said about him. He was a fantastic pro.

“Good luck to Burnley going and spending that money, taking Sander from us.

“We can’t hide away from the fact of what a body blow it was and when it was. As I said, we’re still in the same place as them in the league and it shows we’re doing things right and it is not all about the money.

“We’ll continue to think that way and set up in a way and approach the game in a fashion that will give us the best chance of winning.”

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Life back in the Premier League has been tough for Sheffield United and Burnley, who both stormed to promotion from the Sky Bet Championship in emphatic fashion last season.

The two clubs have a solitary victory each in the top flight, which has increased the scrutiny on the respective managers before this weekend’s six-pointer.

Heckingbottom was eager to point out the financial circumstances he is working under at Bramall Lane amid growing unrest over his position following 10 defeats in 13 league fixtures, including last weekend’s 3-1 home loss to Bournemouth.

He added: “(Pressure) from above? No, I spoke with (chief executive) Stephen (Bettis) and there has been no different conversations. There is pressure from us to do it, because that’s what we want to do, we want to win.

“There are differences with our journey, us and Bournemouth, but I still expected us to go out and win regardless of what they have done and what they have spent. It is the same this weekend.

“We do it our way. Burnley have gone out and (signed) 15 players for over £100million. We couldn’t. One of them we know well, they took one of our best assets but that was the position we were in.

“But, like I said, while they were still spending in the Champ, we kept on their coattails doing it our way, with hard work on the training pitch, using our academy and it has served us well.

“Until we can get the level of resources that the other boys have got, that’s what we’ll continue to do.”