Barnsley: ‘No contact’ with Sunderland over manager’s job insists Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom
Paul Heckingbottom

Barnsley head coach Paul Heckingbottom has stressed he has had no contact with Sunderland with a view to becoming their new manager.

Heckingbottom has been heavily linked with the position for the last week since former boss Simon Grayson was sacked on October 31 following a poor run of results.

Speculation is rife than Heckingbottom could be offered as much as four times his current salary.

But speaking at the Reds’ pre-Norwich City press conference, Heckingbottom revealed: “There hasn’t been [any contact between me and Sunderland]. As it stands there’s nothing in it.

“It’s [speculation] just what happens in football. We’ve been in this situation many times before.

“Until anything happens then everything remain the same.

“It’s not being big-headed, but you’d like to think you’re on people’s lists. Whether they take it further, well that’s down to them.

“Nothing has changed. I’ve always said I’m happy here, but I’m also ambitious and driven.

“Throughout my time at this club, whether it be coaching or playing, there’s definitely been opportunities [to leave].

“But if I didn’t want to be here then I wouldn’t be here. Everybody knows that I want to be here.

“Everybody knows how much I love it here – and I’d love to stay here.”

Heckingbottom is currently on a rolling 12-month contract which expires in June 2018.

The 40-year-old has impressed since taking over from former boss Lee Johnson in February 2016.

He guided the club to promotion to the Championship and the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

“I’ll be totally honest, I’m focused on my job and the players – that’s it!” added Heckingbottom. “You sometimes can’t control what happens elsewhere.”

“The players have asked me about it [the speculation].

“It happens in this industry, I’ve been used to it since I was 17. The players are used to it as well.

“There’s always speculation – and literally that is all it is.”

The Reds take on the Canaries at Carrow Road tomorrow (Saturday) boosted by a three-match unbeaten run.

“It’s going to be a really tough game,” said Heckingbottom. “We’ve got some players back from international duty, which is good.”

Midfielder Lloyd Isgrove remains sidelined through injury, while Stevie Mallan is a doubt with a thigh strain.