Wilder replaces Heckingbottom as Sheffield United manager

5 Dec 2023
Chris Wilder, Sheff Utd

Blades become first club this season to change their manager after losing 11 out of 14 matches

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Chris Wilder has returned to Sheffield United as manager, replacing Paul Heckingbottom.

Wilder, 56, takes the reins after leaving Bramall Lane in March 2021. Saturday's 5-0 defeat at Burnley proved to be Heckingbottom’s final match in charge for the bottom club.

“Yes [I have made the decision],” club owner Prince Abdullah told talkSPORT

“Chris is practically an honour of the club, he’s part of Sheffield United history. One thing I always like to do, not just in football but all of my businesses, is to keep a good relationship with my ex-employees no matter how it ended. I think you should get over it. 

“At the end of the day we’re all passionate about what we do and we believe Chris is the right man for the job.

“Chris has done great things for the club and in my opinion he’s the best guy on planet Earth to take over the club right now in these circumstances. Chris is very optimistic he can save the season. He doesn’t think it’s easy, but he thinks it’s still possible. 

“When you look at the table it's a very special year, a very weird year when it comes to the standings, so it’s still early, the season is still long and we have every chance to achieve our goals.”

The relegation battle

Position Pos Club Played Pl GD Points Pts
16 Brentford BRE 25 -9 25
17 Nott'm Forest NFO 26 -14 24
18 Luton LUT 25 -16 20
19 Burnley BUR 26 -33 13
20 Sheffield Utd SHU 26 -44 13
View More

Sheff Utd become the first Premier League club to change their manager this season. This time last year Scott Parker (AFC Bournemouth), Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea), Bruno Lage (Wolves), Steven Gerrard (Aston Villa) and Ralph Hasenhuttl (Southampton) had all departed their respective clubs. 

Heckingbottom initially replaced Wilder on an interim basis in March 2021, and he then took over on a permanent basis when Slavisa Jokanovic departed in November that year. 

The following season, in 2022/23, Heckingbottom led Sheff Utd to a second-place finish and promotion from the Championship.

However, the Blades have struggled on their return to the Premier League this campaign, losing 11 of their 14 matches. 

In addition to Saturday’s heavy defeat against Burnley, Sheff Utd were also beaten 8-0 at Bramall Lane by Newcastle United in September, the second-biggest home loss in Premier League history. 

Sheff Utd, who have been missing injured centre-backs John Egan and Chris Basham for much of 2023/24, have conceded a competition-high 39 goals this season.

They have also scored only 11 goals, the fewest by a Premier League team so far. They are next in action on Wednesday when they host Liverpool.

Sheff Utd's chief executive officer Stephen Bettis told the club's official website: “Firstly, on behalf of the board of directors, I'd like to thank Paul for all of his efforts at Sheffield United, firstly as U23s manager before stepping up to take control of first-team duties. 

“His professionalism and dedication have been a credit to the club and I'm sure all Unitedites enjoyed the promotion-winning campaign.

“However, after slipping to the bottom of the table and a number of disappointing results and performances, it is felt that a change is needed to give the club a boost and every possible chance of remaining in the Premier League beyond this season.”

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