Paul Heckingbottom: Sheffield United players mourning departure of ‘leader’ Chris Wilder

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Paul Heckingbottom admits Chris Wilder’s departure has left Sheffield United’s players mourning the loss of their ‘leader’ after the Blades were thrashed 5-0 by Leicester

  • Chris Wilder’s departure from Sheffield United was confirmed on Sunday 
  • The 53-year-old’s reign ended with the club bottom of the Premier League
  • Caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom oversaw the dispiriting defeat
  • The ex-Leeds boss said the players were severely affected by Wilder leaving

Chris Wilder’s departure from Sheffield United has left a broken group of players mourning the ‘loss of their leader’, according to caretaker manager Paul Heckingbottom.

The relegation-bound Blades were thrashed 5-0 at Leicester — their worst league defeat since April 2000 — in their first game following the end of Wilder’s five-year reign.

Heckingbottom also revealed that he had only learned on Saturday night that he would definitely be in charge at Leicester and that he had to take a Covid test while in charge of an Under-23 game in order to gain clearance.

Chris Wilder's five-year tenure finished on Saturday with Sheffield United bottom of the league

Chris Wilder’s five-year tenure finished on Saturday with Sheffield United bottom of the league

Paul Heckingbottom had to take a Covid test before being allowed to take charge on Sunday

Paul Heckingbottom had to take a Covid test before being allowed to take charge on Sunday

‘It was difficult to watch and be involved in,’ admitted Heckingbottom. ‘It topped off a really difficult week and it’s an emotional dressing room. 

‘There was anger at the performance and they’re upset as well, both players and staff. The emotional element crept into the day.

‘The boys’ leader has gone, it’s taken its toll on the players and staff. Chris shared a lot of success with people here and it’s the end of that.

Kelechi Iheanacho scored a hat-trick as Sheffield United were overwhelmed at the King Power

Kelechi Iheanacho scored a hat-trick as Sheffield United were overwhelmed at the King Power

‘Chris is a mate, he brought me here and from that point of view I am really sad. I spoke to him before the game and he wants everyone to do well. Don’t forget it’s his club and he feels a pride and responsibility. He loves this place.’

Kelechi Iheanacho’s hat-trick, a second-half strike from Ayoze Perez and Ethan Ampadu’s own-goal compounded the Blades’ misery.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers said: ‘Chris did an amazing job at Sheffield United. But today we stamped our authority on the game.’

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