CONOR Hourihane is determined to play a more central role for Sheffield United following Paul Heckingbottom’s recent appointment as Blades boss.
Hourihane and Heckingbottom know each other well and hope to reignite their winning combination.
Heckingbottom was the Barnsley manager and Hourihane was the Tykes’ captain when the club won the 2015/16 League 1 title and promotion to the Championship, as well as power to Johnstone's Paint Trophy glory at Wembley.
The Heckingbottom-Hourihane partnership has been rekindled now at Sheffield United after previous boss Slavisa Jokanovic was sacked.
Since Heckingbottom took charge of the Blades, Bandon man Hourihane – on a season-long loan from Aston Villa – has started both league games, having just started two matches under Jokanovic all season.
‘The first bit of the season didn't go great for me or the team but Hecky knows what I am about; I know him and he knows me,’ Hourihane said.
‘I have done well in the last couple of games, I want to build on that and contribute to the team and the goal that we all want to achieve.’
Heckingbottom’s arrival has led to an upturn in the Blades’ form as they try to get into the play-off spots. Wins against Bristol City and Cardiff City have pushed them up to 13th in the Championship table, six points off the play-off spots.
‘There is a long way to go, we are in mid-December now. Over the Christmas period there are a lot of games so you can quickly move up that table. We have moved up the table recently and if we keep getting the right results again we will keep moving in the right direction,’ adds Hourihane, who says there is a buzz around the club since Heckingbottom took the Blades hot seat.
‘The best characteristic is that he’s a brilliant man, really honest and trustworthy. You want to play for him, you want to do well for him and on top of that he is a brilliant coach,’ explains Hourihane on Heckingbottom’s impact as manager.
‘He knows how to get the best out of the group, he definitely got the best out of the group when I was at Barnsley and he’s going about his business well.’