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Sheffield United: Paul Heckingbottom sacked with Chris Wilder returning

Sheffield United have decided to sack Paul Heckingbottom following Saturday's 5-0 defeat at fellow strugglers Burnley.

The heavy loss at Turf Moor was the final straw for the Blades board who have acted now after a run of just one win from their first 14 games back in the top flight.

Blades bottom after dismal few months

United are bottom of the table with 11 defeats and just two draws also showing on their record, and the manner of the setback at Burnley, who had previously lost all of their home games, means the club - in reality - had no alternative but to change things in the dugout.

They are 1/14 to be relegated and 8/1 to stay up with the club currently four points adrift of safety heading into the busy winter period.

Heckingbottom has been in charge at Bramall Lane since 2021 when he first took over on an interim basis following Wilder's exit. He was named full-time boss three years ago and under his guidance the Blades finished fifth in the Championship in 2021-22 before losing out in the play-offs.

Then, last season, they finished second, securing promotion back to the top flight in April.

Heckingbottom becomes the first manager to lose his job since the Premier League kicked off in August, although Julen Lopetegui left Wolves just days before the campaign began after a fallout at Molineux.

Speculation over future for weeks

It's somewhat a surprise the former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian chief has lasted this long in the role amid ongoing poor results, although Heckingbottom had his hands tied after the club decided to sell key players Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge in the summer.

Speculation had been building for weeks that the 46-year-old was one bad result away from being given the chop.

That duly materialised at Burnley and now the club have brought back former boss Chris Wilder as his replacement, ironically the man Heckingbottom succeeded when he stepped up from his U23 coaching role.

The Blades will hope getting rid of Heckingbottom will result in a change in fortunes, but they face a difficult task in their next game on Wednesday when they host second-placed Liverpool, while their upcoming games are also tricky as they entertain Brentford before going to Chelsea and Aston Villa before Christmas.

They are a huge 11/1 to beat Liverpool in the aftermath of Heckingbottom's departure, with a draw 13/2 and an away victory for the Reds 1/5.

Wilder returns

Wilder will be given the difficult task of trying to get the Blades out of trouble over the remainder of the season, but he has substantial previous experience in the role.

He guided the club to two promotions during his six-year stay, winning League One in 2017 and then sealing promotion to the Premier League in 2019.

bet365's Steve Freeth said: "At 8/1, the odds of keeping Sheffield United in the Premier League are clearly against Chris Wilder, but he’ll be delighted to have been given another crack at the English top flight.

"The first thing he’ll need to do is steer the Blades past Derby’s unwanted record tally with the Bramall Lane club at 28/1 to finish with 10 points or fewer.

"What is highly unlikely is the 250/1 about him guiding his boyhood club to another top half finish!"

Wilder also won widespread acclaim as he was able to secure a ninth-place finish for the Blades in the memorable 2019-20 season. However, his second campaign in the top flight did not go as well and he was shown the door with his side bottom of the table in March 2021.

Since then, Wilder joined Middlesbrough and had a brief two-month spell in charge of Watford, where he only won three of his 11 games,

He has been linked with a return to Bramall Lane for some time and will hope to rejuvenate the club which has struggled so far back amongst the Premier League's elite.

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