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Hecky: "It was a great season for us."

18 May 2017

Paul Heckingbottom gave Reds supporters an end-of-season update today.

The Reds Gaffer enjoyed a short break in New York recently after a hectic first season back in the Championship. 

He admitted that a relaxing few days was needed but he's now back in the office and back working hard for the Club. 

"It's been nice to have a break" he told us. "It's good to unwind a little bit but now I'm straight back to work and back in the office!"

Hecky ran through what he believes was a successful 2016/17 season, discussing the highs and lows experienced that will hopefully stand the Club in good stead moving forward.

As he said: "I look back to the first game at Ipswich and I felt we played really well on the day, but at the same time we were a little naive and conceded poor goals through doing things we'd not done when getting promoted. 

"So it served as a reminder. The message then was clear, we weren't going to be this pretty team that loses games. And I had to get that over to the players and then a week later against Derby at home, it was the exact opposite.

"We showed quality, we were clinical going forward and our discipline defensively was first class."

After the amazing second half of the 2015/16 campaign, Heckingbottom felt the Club carried that momentum into the new season, but realised that some of the new recruits weren't quite at the levels required early on. 

"The players were on different levels initially" Hecky explained. "The new lads you could see straight away weren't quite at the same level. Not in terms of ability but their intensity and recognising their roles in the side. 

"The players here already, they were carrying that momentum. That's only natural, they had to get up to speed. We drummed into the group during pre-season that we might well get beaten in games, they had to be ready to understand that but not be affected by it. 

"The attitude was no fear. Be calm. And we'd see what happens. I think we started the season well and results were positive but the performances even more so."

There were quite a few off-field issues that arose over the season, and the Gaffer feels that some of the events did eventually take their toll on him.

"Lots of things happened, as we all know. People coming and going for whatever reason, and you try to keep all that away from the dressing room but some of it did shock me. Not just at the time, but even further down the line. 

"I think it did take its toll on me eventually, even if at first I didn't realise. 

"But we've got good people here at the Club and there's mutual respect throughout. It's about sticking together isn't it?"

A lot of focus among the fanbase and media has been centred on the departure of a number of players in the last transfer window.

The drop-off in terms of results though isn't something that Hecky feels is totally down to losing players. 

He said: "Once you know you're safe, things change a little. Look at Burton recently when they came up here. They were fighting for their lives. Bodies everywhere, scrapping for everything. 

"We were fighting. The effort was always there. But not fighting for our lives, if that makes sense. The stats, the running stats, they were still the same, but subconsciously you're not playing for anything. 

"Something was missing. We had that the year before, we had something on every game, and I think not having that played its part towards the end of the season. But of course, losing players doesn't help.

"But if you take us back a year, and someone had said to me that we'd be here now on 58 points, 14th position, safe by March or whatever, I'd have said they were taking the Mickey! So 100% it was a great season for us.

"And now it's about learning from what we've done wrong, and moving forward with what we did right."

As Head Coach, Paul is fully aware of the size of the task ahead of him this summer. 

To describe the summer as 'big' he feels would be an under-statement. 

"This is probably going to be the biggest summer the Club has had in years and years and years!

"But you have to look at it as an exciting time. If we do good business and get the right players in, who knows what can happen? It's all about taking steps forward now and if we then have to step back at any stage, it's a smaller step.

"It's about bridging gaps. And we do lots of things here very, very well. But that doesn't mean we can't get better!

"It's not just the playing side either. We have to believe we can improve as a Club in general. I believe we can and we will."

Hecky ended by confirming that the squad will be strengthened sooner rather than later. 

With deals in the pipeline, the Reds boss is looking forward to once again building a competitive Reds side, and feels that things are changing for the better at the Club he loves.

"We've a few deals lined up" he confirmed. "It's just about waiting for the green light now. But we're getting things moving. 

"Things are going to start falling. Things are about to change. 

"I love working here, I love my job and it'd take something big to get me away from here!"

You can see the full interview with Hecky over on Barnsley Player HD!