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Bottom-placed Sheffield fire Paul Heckingbottom, reappoint Chris Wilder

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Sheffield United has officially announced the departure of manager Paul Heckingbottom following a disheartening 5-0 loss to fellow Premier League newcomers Burnley. 

The Blades, currently at the bottom of the table with just one win in 14 games, have swiftly reappointed former boss Chris Wilder, who returns to the helm after being sacked two years ago. 

Wilder’s return is accompanied by a coaching team that includes Alan Knill, Matt Prestridge, and Keith Andrews, and his first match in charge is slated against Liverpool.

Heckingbottom’s final game in charge saw Sheffield United suffer a heavy defeat against Burnley on Saturday, leading to his dismissal. He becomes the first Premier League manager to be sacked this season, with coaches Stuart McCall and Mark Hudson also departing the club.

In an official statement, Chris Wilder expressed his enthusiasm about returning to Sheffield United, highlighting the club’s significance to him. 

He emphasized the opportunity to make a positive impact and contribute to improving the team’s current predicament.

“Quite simply it was an opportunity which I just couldn’t turn down,” Wilder said in a club statement.

“Just like in 2016, when this club comes calling, it is not something you pass up. This is Sheffield United, it is my team and I am thrilled to be back. We find ourselves in a difficult position, I understand that, but I think I can make a difference.

“When I received the call from Stephen [Bettis] asking if I would consider coming back to try and help, I didn’t have to think about it. People know what this club means to me, and the task now is to try and provide a boost to improve our current situation.

“My relationship with Prince Abdullah and the board was repaired a long time ago. After some time passed following my initial departure, we spoke, met in person and there was an amicable ending. Now, coming back as manager, to know there is a united front again is crucial as we look to work together to improve the club’s position in the Premier League,” he furthered.

Sheffield United owner Prince Abdullah confirmed the move, praising Wilder as an integral part of the club’s history and expressing confidence in his ability to lead the team. 

Wilder, who previously spent five years as Sheffield United’s manager, was let go in early 2021, but he now returns with a new contract until the summer of 2025.

Addressing Heckingbottom’s dismissal, CEO Stephen Bettis acknowledged the manager’s contributions, particularly during the promotion-winning campaign, but cited the need for a change to boost the club’s chances of remaining in the Premier League. 

The statement also acknowledged the challenging circumstances Sheffield United faced, including key player departures before the start of the season.

 

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