- Heckingbottom on the brink as former boss Wilder lined up
- Blades rock bottom after Burnley defeat
- 39 goals conceded in 14 matches prompts change
Sheffield United is reportedly on the verge of parting ways with manager Paul Heckingbottom, turning to former boss Chris Wilder in a desperate bid to rejuvenate their struggling Premier League campaign. The team are favourites to go down with the bookies.
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Rock bottom Blades line up former boss Wilder
The Blades currently languishes at the bottom of the table, managing only one victory this season and suffering a humiliating 5-0 defeat against Burnley over the weekend. Their defensive frailties are evident, having conceded a league-high 39 goals in just 14 matches.
Heckingbottom had shown resilience in the face of challenges at Bramall Lane, guiding United to promotion from the Championship last season despite various off-field issues. The 46-year-old coped with the abrupt departures of key players Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge to Marseille and Burnley, respectively. However, following the recent loss to Burnley where United went down to 10 men after Oli McBurnie’s red card, Heckingbottom criticised the club for prioritising financial decisions over football decisions. He highlighted the club’s cost-cutting measures, transfer embargoes, and the sale of top assets while questioning the significant £200 million expenditure.
Wilder, if appointed, would be making a return to his boyhood club with a point to prove. He achieved hero status by guiding Sheffield United to the Premier League in 2019 but mutually parted ways in 2021 due to a decline in performance. Wilder was subsequently sacked by Watford at the end of the last season and withdrew from negotiations to take charge at Reading in the summer. The 56-year-old is anticipated to sign an 18-month deal with Sheffield United, who are set to face Liverpool on Wednesday.
Heckingbottom’s potential departure from Bramall Lane would mark the first Premier League managerial sacking of the season. By this point last year, five managers had already been relieved of their duties, including Scott Parker (Bournemouth), Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea), Bruno Lage (Wolves), Steven Gerrard (Aston Villa), and Ralph Hasenhüttl (Southampton).
Sheffield United are huge favourites to be relegated. At the time of writing they are priced at 1/8 to go down with BetUK. However, while you could argue that there are things that Heckingbottom could have done better, given the conditions under which he has been working it is debatable whether a change of manager will make a significant difference. Many pundits have backed Heckingbottom so far this campaign, especially after his achievements under such financial constraints last season. However, recently the organisation, commitment and discipline of the players has been questioned, McBurnie’s sending off at Burnley being a case in point. Should the board dismiss Heckingbottom and appoint Wilder and these issues are improved upon then their decision would be vindicated, even if they fall short of survival. Too many extreme results such as a 5-0 defeat away to fellow relegation candidates and the 8-0 home loss to Newcastle United will have been the deciding factors should Heckingbottom be sacked.
New manager bounce
While survival might be a tough ask, bettors may ask themselves whether the Blades can benefit from a “new manager bounce”. Depending on the timing, should Wilder be appointed, his first game in charge could be the home match against second placed Liverpool. As you would expect, the visitors are strong favourites. At the time of writing, Betway have Jurgen Klopp’s side priced at 2/11 with a draw 13/2 and a United win 11/1. A double chance bet on the Blades to win or draw is 7/2.
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