The Blades have become the first top-flight team to make the drop back to the Championship this season in just 32 games
Sheffield United have been relegated from the Premier League with six games in hand following their defeat to Wolves on Saturday, matching an unwanted all-time modern era record.
The Blades were sunk just before the hour mark courtesy of Willian Jose’s right-footed finish, to condemn them to a return to the Championship after two seasons in the top flight.
With just 32 games under their belt, it means that the club write themselves a further piece of undesirable history in their demotion, equaling the lowest number of games for a side to take the tumble back to the second tier.
Just what have Sheffield United achieved?
In dropping out of the Premier League with six games left to play, it means that the Blades have joined the ranks of two other sides who jointly hold the record for the earliest return to the second tier, Derby County and Huddersfield Town.
The Rams’ 2007-08 run remains the low bar which few sides are likely to ever fail to clear, winning just one game all season – though it took until March for them to be officially condemned.
The Terriers tied them for overall games over a decade later, when they were relegated in 2018-19 with just the three wins to their name, with just 16 points overall.
Now, Paul Heckingbottom’s side have joined their select band, though they will at least still have time to carve out three more points to overhaul their Yorkshire rivals for a total tally.
Blades rusted in sophomore slump
Having lit up the Premier League in their first term back at the top table since 2006-07 following a second-place Championship finish, hopes were high that Chris Wilder’s side would be able to beat the odds again following an unlikely push for Europe in 2019-20.
But having slumped to three defeats on the trot to close out ltheir previous campaign, the South Yorkshire outfit continued to slide down the table and found themselves firmly rooted to the foot of the relegation zone, with just two points taken before the arrival of 2021.
A maiden league win came in early January against Newcastle, before a shock victory over Manchester United sparked suggestions of an unlikely rise from the canvas across the second half of the season.
Yet further results failed to materialise and Wilder – who had led the club back to the big time from the doldrums of League One – was dismissed on March 13, with academy coach Paul Heckingbottom installed on an interim basis.
The Blades have failed to win since the ex-Leeds boss took charge, and with their fate now secured, will look to begin the rebuilding process as they prepare for a return to the second tier.
More to come…