Heckingbottom: This is potentially ‘one of the biggest weeks in’ Sheffield United’s history
Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom says this week could be one of the biggest in the club’s history as they prepare for an FA Cup quarter-final with Blackburn.
The Blades host their Championship rivals at Bramall Lane on Sunday hoping to book a Wembley date for the semi-final just days after they reignited their automatic-promotion hopes with a big win at Sunderland.
That moved them six points clear of third-placed Middlesbrough in the table with nine games to go and Heckingbottom wants his side to supplement their promotion challenge with a trip to Wembley.
“This is a massive opportunity, 100 per cent,” he said.
“I said before the Sunderland game to the players, this week could be one of the biggest weeks of the season. Potentially one of the biggest weeks of the players’ careers and potentially one of the biggest weeks in the club’s history.
“We have to understand that and understand what we are playing for. Not just for this week, but if we can keep performing well enough we can keep having more weeks like this.
Phenomenal support by those travelling Blades fans tonight.
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) March 15, 2023
“There is not many times you get to play at Wembley so it is always a big occasion for the players, but for the fans it’s huge, it’s a reward for the season.
“So we know what’s at stake, but I think you don’t want that to be the only reason. This is a quarter-final, not a semi-final.
“I was still playing when the semi-finals moved to Wembley and I was against it, I just felt Wembley was for the final but when you are a game away from it, you are probably for it.
“We are playing for a game at Wembley but it is not for the ultimate prize, it is still a long way off.”
The Blades, who lost to Blackburn in the Championship a fortnight ago, have been one of the biggest stories in this year’s FA Cup.
Their fourth-round tie with Wrexham, which the Blades won in a replay, attracted plenty of attention before they dumped Tottenham out in the last round.
Heckingbottom wants his team to write another headline by beating Rovers.
“The FA Cup is huge,” he said. “And I think this season has been good, there’s been a bit of spark about it, there seems to have been a little bit of a reignition of people’s interests in the FA Cup, which is good because it was the biggest thing when we were growing up.
“It’s been nice, we have been involved in a couple of stories and different occasions so it will be nice to have another one.
“We have tried to enjoy all the cup games and we will enjoy this one. We know it is a different audience, it is irrelevant on the pitch, but it’s different and that adds to that different feeling.”
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