Paul Heckingbottom’s blueprint makes sense for Norwich City

Paul Heckingbottom has worked wonders at Barnsley.
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Heckingbottom has worked wonders at Barnsley. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Heckingbottom has revealed the keys to success which have seen him touted with Norwich City's head coach vacancy.

Barnsley's 39-year-old head coach is sure to be on the radar for the club's new sporting director, with Huddersfield confirming yesterday current head of football operations Stuart Webber had been placed on garden leave, while the two clubs thrash out an agreement.

City's top brass also aim to recruit a long term replacement for Alex Neil within the new football set-up, and Heckingbottom has the Tykes punching well above their weight.

'It is not just Newcastle we are competing with. All the clubs that came down from the Premier League are favourites to go back up for a good reason,' he said. 'This season Newcastle, Norwich and Villa all have Premier League squads, big finance, good backing from parachute payments and great income streams. It is difficult to compete against those teams. We are playing against teams in the Championship who have individuals on more money a week than our entire squad combined.

'But it can spur you on. We use that underdog tag to thrive, even though our market at Barnsley for players is different to every other club in the Championship. As a learning environment for me as a young manager this is huge.

'We know we are not on a level playing field. Our budget will be the lowest in the Championship. We have a small squad and a small coaching staff. But we use that as a positive. We try to maximize everything that our situation can give us. It can give us hunger, it can give us drive.'

The one-time Norwich City player - who made 15 league appearances during a one-year stay in 2002/03 - has kept Barnsley on course for a top 10 finish despite losing key players in the January transfer window.

Most Read

'We try to use our circumstances to our advantage and then pick a young, hungry team that will reinforce that attitude on the pitch, with the fans buying into it,' he told the latest issue of FC Business magazine. 'The small playing squad can give the feeling to the players that they will get a place in the first team if they are performing well because we are not carrying any dead wood.

'Literally every penny counts. We planned to get out of League One by recruiting young, hungry players. We tried to coach the lads well and provide a good environment where they could improve and prosper. The difficulty we face is keeping those lads, putting in even more money and building for the next level. We have to be cute in how we use contracts to tie players down and maximise the value of each player when we sell them. Therefore the business model to improve the squad is still the same as it was in League One.'