Sheffield United sack manager Paul Heckingbottom and appoint Chris Wilder

Sheffield United have reappointed former manager Chris Wilder to succeed Paul Heckingbottom on an 18-month contract.

Alan Knill, Matt Prestridge and former Republic of Ireland international Keith Andrews will assist Wilder and all will be in the technical area for tomorrow’s home fixture against Liverpool.

The 56-year-old enjoyed five years in charge of the Blades between 2016 and 2021, guiding the club from League One to the Premier League and registering a ninth-placed finish in the top flight in 2019/20 before leaving by mutual consent the following season.

Wilder returns to his boyhood club with the Blades sat bottom of the table with five points from 14 games.

Heckingbottom was relieved of his duties in the wake of Saturday’s 5-0 thrashing at Burnley, with the Blades winning only one game, drawing two and losing 11 this term – while scoring a league-low 11 goals and shipping a league-high 39.

Paul Heckingbottom leaves Sheffield with a 50% win percentage.

Wilder told sufc.co.uk: “It was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down. 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.”

United’s chief executive officer, Stephen Bettis, added: “Following discussions, the board feel that Chris Wilder is the best possible option to give the Blades a change in fortune at this time and everyone at the club is delighted to welcome him back.

“His love for United and desire to improve the current situation is undeniable, added to the fact that he knows the majority of the squad and the club’s DNA, which will help him hit the ground running.”

Wilder celebrates promotion with his boyhood club in 2019.

In a statement to the League Managers Association, the departing Heckingbottom said: “I leave Sheffield United after three and a half years with many great memories created by many great people.

“I begin by thanking Prince Abdullah and the board for entrusting me with managing such a special club. The challenges and successes have made for such a special couple of years, and it has been an honour to lead the team during this period.

“To the players, those who have left, those who I have known a long time and those who I wish to have known longer, thank you. Working with you all is the best part of the job. The focus and spirit that you demonstrated allowed us to achieve special things.

“Our history-making season in the face of adversity, born out of a heart-breaking and emotional loss in the play-offs the season before, will forever be my highlight. A record 91 Championship points and an FA Cup semi-final does not begin to tell the story. Well done and I hope to catch up with you all soon.

“Finally, a message to the fans. Thank you for your support. You are what made the journey so special and many of my fondest memories are of the players and fans celebrating our victories together. Bramall Lane on a match day will always hold a special place in my heart. I loved it!

“When the dust settles, that is what will bring me back. I hope to catch up with many of you then. In the meantime, keep supporting your team.”

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