Sheffield United reach decision on Paul Heckingbottom's future after season reached new low v Burnley
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Sheffield United are expected to confirm the departure of manager Paul Heckingbottom today after a decision was taken on his future following their 5-0 hammering at bottom club Burnley on Saturday. United slipped to the foot of the Premier League table after that result and have five points from 14 matches played so far.
Defeat at Turf Moor was a new low in a season that had already seen the Blades battered 8-0 at home by Newcastle United, and 5-0 away at Arsenal. Heckingbottom admitted after the game that a section of supporters chanting against him in the away end "changed the dynamic" of his position but that, until he was told otherwise, he would continue to work as hard as ever with the tools at his disposal.
Heckiingbottom led United into the Premier League last season against a backdrop of financial instability, including a transfer embargo, unpaid suppliers and rumours of administration. He was rewarded with a £20m budget for permanent signings in the summer and saw two of his most influential players, Iliman Ndiaye and Sander Berge, sold on the eve of the season.
United subsequently went down the route of signing young and largely unproven players in English football but the experiment has not worked. Fans became frustrated with results, as well as Heckingbottom's tactics, with the final straw a sorry 5-0 defeat against a Burnley side who hadn't won at home all season and went into the game on the back of seven straight defeats.
Heckingbottom was scheduled to meet the media this afternoon to preview the Blades' home clash with Liverpool on Wednesday night, with invitations sent to journalists before the trip to Burnley. It has not yet been confirmed who will be in the hotseat for the clash with Jurgen Klopp's Premier League giants.
Heckingbottom signed a long-term contract when he succeeded Slavisa Jokanovic in charge, with his appointment heralding a change of direction at Bramall Lane. United's owner Prince Abdullah wanted to make the Blades a sustainable club, with a focus on bringing players through from the youth academy to the first team. Just over two years on United are a club in disarray, with their hopes of remaining in the Premier League in disarray and the number of players out of contract next summer in double figures. It remains to be seen which direction they go in next.