Chris Wilder confirmed as new Sheffield United manager after Blades axe ‘classy’ Heckingbottom

Harry Watkinson
Chris Wilder replaces Paul Heckingbottom as Sheffield United manager
Chris Wilder replaces Paul Heckingbottom as Sheffield United manager

Sheffield United owner Prince Abdullah has announced the return of Chris Wilder as manager, who replaces the sacked Paul Heckingbottom.

Heckingbottom initially replaced Wilder on an interim basis in March 2021. However, with the Blades sitting bottom of the Premier League table after a 5-0 defeat to Burnley, it was no surprise to see him given the boot.

In an interview with talkSPORT, Prince Abdullah has explained why he decided to sack Heckingbottom and replace him with Wilder, who he insists is the “best guy on planet earth to take over.”

“Yes [I have made the decision].” the Prince confirmed.

“Chris Wilder is practically an honour of the club, he’s part of Sheffield United history.

“One thing I always like to do, not just in football but all of my businesses, is to keep a good relationship with my ex-employees no matter how it ended, I think you should get over it.

“At the end of the day we’re all passionate about what we do and we believe Chris is the right man for the job.

“Chris has done great things for the club and in my opinion he’s the best guy on planet earth to take over the club right now in these circumstances.”

When asked what he would say directly to Sheffield United fans about Wilder’s re-appointment, the Prince said: “Listen to Chris.

“Chris is very optimistic he can save the season, he doesn’t think it’s easy, but he thinks it’s still possible.

“When you look at the table it’s a very special year, a very weird year when it comes to the standings, so it’s still early, the season is still long and we have every chance to achieve our goals.”

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Abdullah was then asked about his plans for the January transfer window, saying: “We will look at where we are in the table and what we can do.

“It’s very early to talk about that but I can assure you one thing: me and Chris are on the same page when it comes to January and after January.

“We know what we have to do, we’ve looked at all scenarios and we know we’ve made mistakes in the past but if we need to do anything at any time we will do it.”

On the decision to sack Heckingbottom, the owner said: “I have mixed emotions about letting Paul go.”

“I really have a lot of respect for Paul and everything he did for the club, he’s a very classy guy.

“I’ve been at the club for five years and we changed one manager and that was Slav [Slavisa Jokanovic], so we believe in sticking with the manager and supporting him.

“But I felt like after the last few games it was a necessary decision and the replacement has done great things for the clubs and knows the club, so I feel good about the decision in one way but I really have a tremendous respect for Paul.”

Prince Abdullah came under a lot of criticism in the summer for the sale of two of Sheffield United’s best players from last season – Sander Berge for £12million to Burnley, and Iliman Ndiaye for £20m to Marseille.

The Blade’s owner insisted, however, that he sold the duo because he cared about the club – as both of their contracts had just one year remaining on them.

“If I was an owner looking only at my interests I would have not sold the two players,” he said.

“We were negotiating with more than one party to sell the club, the club is worth much more in the Premier League than relegated.

“We all knew that if we kept Iliman and Berge we would have had a better chance of staying in the Premier League and getting a better price, but I looked at the long-term interests of the club, not only me, and that’s why I’m very proud of the club.”

“We came to the decision that with one year left on their contracts we looked at the long term interests of the club, we didn’t look at only this year and think ‘who cares about next year we won’t be here?’ we couldn’t keep those players and lose the club a lot of money

“Everything we do is for the benefit of the club. We have not taken money out of the club.”

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