Paul Heckingbottom guided Sheffield United back to the top flight by finishing second in the Championship last season; Blades sit bottom of the Premier League; Heckingbottom sacked, with Chris Wilder set to replace him at Bramall Lane
Tuesday 5 December 2023 13:01, UK
Chris Wilder is set to take over as Sheffield United manager on an 18-month deal, after Paul Heckingbottom was sacked on Tuesday.
The Blades announced the sacking of Heckingbottom on Tuesday.
In a key Premier League relegation battle on Saturday, Sheffield United were beaten 5-0 by Vincent Kompany's Burnley, losing their 11th game of the season, with only one victory from their 14 matches.
After being leapfrogged by Burnley, Sheffield United are now bottom of the table. They play Liverpool at Bramall Lane on Wednesday night.
Heckingbottom was appointed as head coach at Bramall Lane in November 2021, and guided the Blades back to the top flight by finishing second in the Championship last season.
Wilder, 56, is currently out of work after his short-term contract came to an end at Watford.
'Loss of two best players derailed Heckingbottom'
Sue Smith on Sky Sports News:
"After the result at the weekend, there was a feeling this could potentially happen. You also think of the Bournemouth result at home before that.
"When you're playing against two teams around you, I don't think it was necessarily the results, but also the performances.
"There was a lack of fight and it was something that really struck home watching the games.
"They beat Wolves and drew with Brighton so you wondered if they were picking up, but I do feel for Paul Heckingbottom.
"He came into the season having lost two of his best players in Sander Berge and Iliman Ndiaye, so I do have sympathy."
Speaking after Saturday's 5-0 defeat, Heckingbottom said Sheffield United are paying the price for their summer transfer window.
Burnley, promoted as Championship winners last season, invested more than £90m in the summer, but it was very different at Bramall Lane where key players Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge were sold - the latter to Burnley - with Heckingbottom only able to invest limited funds to replace them.
"I wanted to keep the group together but we couldn't," Heckingbottom said. "We couldn't because of the last few years and the financial implications. If we'd tied them down [on longer contracts] then we probably wouldn't have sold those players.
"There wasn't a desire from the ownership to sell but a necessity from a business point of view. We've been making financial decisions rather than football decisions. Of course that affects me. I didn't want it to happen."
It has left United hamstrung when trying to compete in a Premier League where clubs from top to bottom have spent significantly in recent windows, as shown by last weekend's 3-1 home defeat against struggling Bournemouth.
"In terms of other clubs, good luck to them," Heckingbottom said. "Bournemouth last week: you go through the last four windows and we've been cutting the wage bill, transfer embargoes, selling the best assets and they've spent £200m.
"We're going to face this every week but so what? We have to embrace the challenge of this league. The players have worked hard to be here. It's not going to change. It's just an excuse, a reason to fail."
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