By Milcah Tanimu
On Tuesday, Sheffield United announced the reappointment of Chris Wilder as their manager, following the sacking of Paul Heckingbottom due to a challenging start to the Premier League season. The club, currently positioned at the bottom of the table, is seeking a “boost” in their fight for survival, according to CEO Stephen Bettis.
Heckingbottom becomes the first managerial casualty of the Premier League this season, with 11 defeats in 14 league games leaving Sheffield United four points adrift of safety. Bettis acknowledged Heckingbottom’s professionalism and dedication but emphasized the need for a change to enhance the club’s chances of remaining in the Premier League beyond this season.
Shortly after Heckingbottom’s dismissal, Sheffield United issued a new statement confirming the return of Chris Wilder to the managerial role. Wilder, who previously led the team for almost five years, has signed a contract until 2025.
Wilder expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “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.” Bettis asserted that Wilder, at 56 years old, was the best possible option to bring about a change in fortune for the Blades.
Heckingbottom, appointed as permanent manager in November 2021, guided Sheffield United back to the Premier League with a second-place finish in the Championship last season. However, a series of disappointing results, including a 5-0 defeat at Burnley, led to his departure. Heckingbottom attributed some of the challenges to a difficult summer transfer window, where key players were lost due to financial decisions.
Despite the struggles of several clubs at the bottom of the Premier League, Heckingbottom is the first managerial departure of the season. Wilder left Sheffield United by mutual consent in March 2021, and since then, he has had managerial spells at Middlesbrough and Watford.