Sheffield United is the first club to sack its manager in the current Premier League season after relieving Paul Heckingbottom of his duties. The Blades are at the bottom of the Premier League table with just five points. Heckingbottom led the side to just one win and two draws through 14 games in the league. The deciding blow was a 5-0 loss to fellow relegation candidates Burnley.

Both Sheffield United and Burnley, along with Luton Town, came up from the Championship with promotion last season. However, each of those clubs is finding life challenging in the Premier League. The only reason Luton Town is not in the relegation zone is because of Everton’s 10-point deduction. Sheffield United, Burnley and Everton have the three worst records in the league this campaign.

However, despite their poor form, sackings in the Premier League have not been as rampant as the 2022/23 season. As said, Heckingbottom is the first to go, but it is already in December. The season is a third of the way done, and some teams are already in desperate need of change. By comparison, five clubs sacked permanent managers by December last season.

Sheffield United sacks Paul Heckingbottom with club at bottom

Heckingbottom’s case with Sheffield United stands out among the rest of the managers in the Premier League, though. Heckingbottom admitted that Sheffield United’s transfers away from the club impacted its success this season. Notably, United shipped out Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge. With the funds, Sheffield brought in Cameron Archer, Gustavo Hamer and Vini Souza as direct replacements.

Yet, the success Sheffield showed a season ago depended on that cohesion.

“I wanted to keep the group together but we couldn’t,” Heckingbottom said to the BBC. “We couldn’t because of the last few years and the financial implications. If we’d tied them down [on longer contracts] then we probably wouldn’t have sold those players.”

Heckingbottom said those sales came from the club’s hierarchy and their desire to sell to make a profit.

“There wasn’t a desire from the ownership to sell, but a necessity from a business point of view. We’ve been making financial decisions rather than football decisions. Of course that affects me. I didn’t want it to happen.”

Chris Wilder guided Sheffield to relative Premier League success just four seasons ago.
Chris Wilder guided Sheffield to relative Premier League success just four seasons ago.

Chris Wilder guided Sheffield to relative Premier League success just four seasons ago.

Chris Wilder returns as interim boss

Former Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder is likely to replace Paul Heckingbottom as the boss at Bramall Lane. Most recently, Wilder was the short-term manager of Watford in the Championship. Watford finished as a mid-table side in the Championship last season. However, Wilder’s spell was not fruitful.

When he was at Sheffield United, Wilder led the Blades to the Premier League after a few seasons in the Championship. Moreover, he kept the club up for one season in the league. In fact, Sheffield United finished the 2019/20 season in ninth in the Premier League.

However, struggles in the following season led to his dismissal after 28 games. He left when Sheffield was last in the Premier League.