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Hecky: "Let's end the year in style."

30 December 2016

Reds Head Coach wants to finish 2016 with a flourish against Birmingham City.

Reds Head Coach Paul Heckingbottom feels Birmingham City will pose different threats under new manager Gianfranco Zola when the Blues visit Oakwell tomorrow.

Zola will be taking charge of his third Birmingham game and is searching for his first win as manager.

The Reds beat the Blues 3-0 at St Andrew’s earlier this month but Heckingbottom feels that result is now irrelevant given the number of changes since the initial meeting. 

He said, “Birmingham have changed, we’ve only seen a couple of games but it’s subtle changes and differences. I was at the Derby game and one thing I did see was a team that was working really hard for each other.

“They’ve got a new manager and they’ll be working hard to try and impress him, he’ll be trying to figure out his best team and give everyone a chance and there may be more changes before they play us.

“They’ve been up against two good sides and given a good account of themselves against Derby and Brighton, it’s still the same players right up there in the play-off hunt and we know it’s going to be tough.

“We know we’re going to have to perform as well as he did when we played them away from home and hopefully we can do that and we’ll have a good chance of getting a positive result.

“I take satisfaction in the performance and how we set the team up and how well they performed and their commitment to the cause and it was good from minute one until the end.

“We’re at a big point and a really important stage in the season in what we’re trying to achieve so these remaining few months are a really important time.

“If you look back and ask anyone what we were trying to achieve and what we were aiming for, we’re close to it, and your next step is about how we get better.”

Heckingbottom began the press conference by paying tribute to club legend Norman Rimmington, who sadly passed away yesterday at the age of 93.

The former Reds goalkeeper made 27 appearances for the side from signing in 1945 until 1947, returning in 1952 after his retirement.

He held several posts at the Club right through from kitman and laundry to assistant manager.

The Head Coach hopes that the Reds legend will be fondly remembered by all associated with the Club.

He said, “It is sad, but I think we should all remember him for what he was, a great character and a great servant to the football club and celebrate what he did for everyone.

“He touched everyone who has ever played at the football club, even the ones who haven’t been here long, they all ask about ‘Rimmo’ and I think that’s how we should remember him because it was his life.

“Along with his family, the football club was his life. Unfortunately when I saw him last week he wasn’t talking great and couldn’t speak about football, but the time a couple of weeks before, he was telling me what I was doing wrong.

“That’s what I’ll always remember about him, personally I’ll be remembering good things and celebrating what a good man he was.

“He was mentioned all the time, I was watching Neil Warnock’s press conference before we played Cardiff and he mentioned ‘Rimmo’.

“He obviously didn’t know at the time he’d just had a fall but everyone who has been associated with the club thinks of Norman Rimmington and that’s the stuff that should be remembered.”

The Birmingham game will be followed my Nottingham Forest on Monday, a short turnaround for the Reds with Heckingbottom hinting changes may have to be made.

As it stands, the Head Coach insisted there are no fresh injury concerns ahead of the trip to Forest, but that may change after tomorrow’s clash.

“They’re all OK, nothing new to report,” he added. “It’s been a quick turnaround, not too quick but Saturday to Monday is the quick one but it’s good that we have plenty of bodies fit and available because we’ll have to freshen it up. 

“Forest play and then they’ve got an extra day of rest and the stats on that are incredible, I still don’t know how they allow that to happen because it changes to something like a team is 40% more likely to win a game with an extra day’s rest in that short turnaround.

“We dominated the game against QPR and then went to Huddersfield and looked flat for the first 60 minutes. That’s something that should be looked at with fixtures.

“It’s only in the small turnaround, everyone is used to playing Saturday to Tuesday or Wednesday it doesn’t matter.

“It’s when it goes from 48 hours and the other team has an extra 24 hours that’s a big difference because your body struggles to turn over as quick as that.”

Forest beat the Reds 5-2 at Oakwell in November but much like Birmingham, Hecky feels there may be more changes for the 

“There have been lots of changes again since, they were on a good little run and that’s the only time they’ve had a stable team, apart from that there have been lots of changes.

“There’s lots of ways they can go, they’re a big team with big players and he can pick and choose any sort of 11 unless they get a positive result tonight, they’ll make more changes again.

“I thought they were clinical against us, they exposed our weaknesses and they exposed ours. They were really clinical, Lansbury had a big impact on the game and was exceptional."

Looking at what he expected from the division, Hecky is satisfied with where the Reds are but added his sole aim was for the side to be competitive in the division.

He feels they have more than achieved that and wants them to continue to push on until the end of the season.

“I didn’t have any expectations, I just wanted to be as good as we possibly could, I spoke in the summer about how do we win games and score goals, that was our focus.

“We try and be an aggressive team both with and without the ball, it’s a big thing so we have to make sure every interaction and message we send to the players reflects that and it was one way about going about it.

“After a couple of games I knew that I shouldn’t be concerned and it was a case of how we keep improving and that’s not going to change regardless of where we are.

“We may finish higher, we may finish lower than where we are at the minute. If the application is the same and we keep striving to get better, there’s no reason we can’t finish higher.

“Everyone is enjoying what we are doing at the minute and working hard to keep getting wins. We know we weren’t trying any harder or not as hard as when we weren’t getting them.

“We could continue playing as well as we are and may struggle to get as many wins and then we’ll need to look at improving further.”

He also added that defender Andy Yiadom has been selected for involvement with Ghana at the African Cup of Nations tournament, held in Gabon.

The tournament gets underway on Saturday, January 14, with the final on Sunday, February 5.

Hecky’ expressed his delight at Yiadom’s call-up and what his selection could entail.

“Andy has been called up, they have a training camp before that but we’ve said we want him to play in the two league games.

“The first day of the training camp should be the day we play Forest and we want him for that and then in the FA Cup third round and we’ll release him after that, that’s the communication we’ve sent back.

“We’ll just be awaiting communication after that. It depends how long they’re in the competition for, the first week in February is the final but on their itinerary they want to keep him longer.

“If he did get to the final we’d want him straight back and he’d want to come straight back. If it went that long to the final, you’re talking about four weeks which is a blow for us.

“He’s played virtually every game and has got stronger as the season has gone on.”

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