Sheffield United on Tuesday reappointed Chris Wilder as manager after sacking Paul Heckingbottom following a miserable start to the Premier League season.
CEO Stephen Bettis said the club, bottom of the table, needed a “boost” in their battle for survival.
Heckingbottom is the first manager to be fired this season in the English top flight after 11 defeats in 14 league games, leaving them four points from safety.
Bettis praised Heckingbottom’s “professionalism and dedication” in a club statement.
“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,” he said.
Shortly afterwards, the club issued a fresh statement, confirming Wilder was back in the hot seat, having signed a contract until 2025.
“Quite simply it was an opportunity which I just couldn’t turn down,” Wilder said. “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.”
Bettis said Wilder, 56, was “the best possible option to give the Blades a change in fortune”.
Heckingbottom, appointed permanent manager in November 2021, guided the club back to the Premier League with a second-place Championship finish last season.
The 46-year-old voiced his frustration after his side’s 5-0 defeat at Burnley at the weekend—the club’s third loss by five goals or more this season.
Some away supporters turned on Heckingbottom towards the end of the match.
“The fans are right to shout, say that wasn’t good enough. I was almost singing along with them at one point,” Heckingbottom said.
He said the club were paying the price for a difficult summer transfer window, during which he lost key players.
“There wasn’t a desire from the ownership to sell but a necessity from a business point of view,” he said. “We’ve been making financial decisions rather than football decisions. Of course that affects me.”
Despite the struggles of a number of clubs at the bottom of the Premier League, Heckingbottom is the first managerial departure this season — there were a record 14 managerial changes in the 2022/23 campaign.
Wilder, a popular figure at Bramall Lane, left by mutual consent in March 2021 after almost five years in charge. He has since had spells at Middlesbrough and Watford.
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