Under-fire Sheffield United boss Paul Heckingbottom insisted he could hold his head up high after a number of fans turned on him following his side’s 5-0 capitulation away to fellow strugglers Burnley.
The odds on Heckingbottom becoming the first Premier League manager to lose his job this season tumbled after a humbling defeat, in which a Burnley side who started the day bottom of the table scored an opener through Jay Rodriguez just 15 seconds in and recorded their biggest top-flight win since 1970.
Jacob Bruun Larsen doubled the lead and, with the Blades reduced to 10 men when Oli McBurnie was sent off before half-time, they crumbled in the second half with Zeki Amdouni, Luca Koleosho and Josh Brownhill helping Burnley end their wait for a home league win this season at the eighth attempt.
United never looked in the game, and fans made their feelings known at the final whistle.
“I bet they’re nearly as angry as me,” Heckingbottom said.
“I’ve had this now since the beginning of September. But the one thing I can say is I can walk out of this stadium with my head held high.
“I know how hard I work for everyone at the club. I won’t change, I’ll make sure the staff do the same. And we continue to give everything we’ve got with what we’ve got. That won’t change. But, as I said the first time I was asked this, you’re asking the wrong person (about his future)…
“Of course if fans start changing, it changes the dynamic. It doesn’t change how I feel or my job. I just said to the players in there, I can walk out with my head held high but you can’t kid people.
“The fans are right to shout, say that wasn’t good enough. I was almost singing along with them at one point.”
Given Burnley were two goals to the good at the time with United barely laying a glove on them, McBurnie’s red card in the first minute of stoppage time was hardly a turning point, but the Scot’s two yellow cards in the space of 10 minutes killed off any hope of a comeback.
“He’s let me down,” Heckingbottom said. “He knows he has.”
Burnley’s first home win and first clean sheet of the season lifted them off the foot of the table, and relieved some of the tension that has been building around Turf Moor.
“I think we were so desperate to do it,” Kompany said. “We felt against (Crystal) Palace was good, against West Ham was good. You don’t know when it’s coming but I felt we always believed it was coming so for us hopefully it’s a starting point.
“The performance today was really good but you have to turn it into results. I just hope with the goals they’ve scored today and the fact we had a lot of goalscorers as well, that’s an important sign with Lyle Foster still not being there. Hopefully of the consistency of doing that will remain.”
Both of Burnley’s wins to date have come against sides they were promoted with during the summer. The challenge of taking points of established Premier League sides remains, starting away to Wolves on Tuesday night.
“I’ll have a glass of red wine tonight and then back on to Wolves, it’s coming on Tuesday,” Kompany said. “When we win there’s only three days to enjoy it. But we go again. It’s the same recipe really.
“I see the boys making progress, they work as hard as the top teams in the league. They don’t get the rewards for it at the moment but now we live towards the Wolverhampton game.”