FORMER Middlesbrough manager Chris Wilder is set to return to Sheffield United – with Paul Heckingbottom on the brink of being sacked at Bramall Lane.

Heckingbottom is expected to be dismissed in the next 24 hours, with Saturday’s capitulation at Burnley having proved the final straw for the Blades board.

The Premier League’s bottom side were thrashed 5-0 at Turf Moor, their 11th defeat so far this term, and have picked up just five points from their opening 14 league games.

Yesterday’s pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow’s home game with Liverpool was postponed, fuelling suggestions that Heckingbottom was about to lose his job.

Wilder has been lined up to replace him, with the 56-year-old having enjoyed a successful five-year spell in charge at Bramall Lane between 2016 and 2021.

He led Sheffield United to promotion from the Championship in 2019, before guiding the South Yorkshire club to a ninth-place finish in their first season back in the top-flight.

He left by mutual consent in March 2021, and was appointed Middlesbrough manager in November 2021, succeeding another former Sheffield United boss, Neil Warnock, at the Riverside.


His year-long spell as Boro boss was relatively disappointing, although he did lead the Teessiders into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, with a penalty shoot-out win at Manchester United and a home success over Tottenham providing the highlights of his reign.

He struggled at the start of the 2022-23 season though, and was dismissed in October 2022 with his side sitting in the Championship relegation zone.

He remains a popular figure amongst the Sheffield United support though, and has been touted as a potential replacement for Heckingbottom for a number of weeks.

Heckingbottom, who is a former player at both Darlington and Hartlepool United, was heckled by a significant section of the travelling support on Saturday as his side were heavily beaten at Burnley in a game that saw Blades striker Oli McBurnie receive a first-half red card for twice elbowing an opponent.