The Blades have become the first top-flight team to make the drop back to the Championship this season
Sheffield United have been relegated from the Premier League with six games to spare following their 1-0 defeat to Wolves on Saturday, matching an unwanted Premier League 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.
What was said?
“It’s a very disappointing day for myself, the lads and the football club,” defender John Egan told PLP. “You work so hard to get to the Premier League. It’s tough to take but the writing was on the wall for a while.
“We haven’t been good enough this season. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. That summed up a lot of our games this season. It’s been a reoccurring theme. We gave a better performance tonight but the result didn’t go for us. It’s a sad day for the football club.”
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 three other sides who jointly hold the record for the earliest return to the second tier: Ipswich Town, Derby County and Huddersfield Town.
The Tractor Boys’ 1994-95 campaign saw them concede 93 goals en route to ending their three-year stay in the top flight.
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 then tied the pair for overall games when they were relegated in 2018-19 with just the three wins to their name and 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.
In addition, they have become the first team to finish as high as ninth and be relegated the following season since Birmingham City achieved the feat a decade ago across 2009-10 and 2010-11.
Blades rusted in sophomore slump
Having lit up the Premier League with a ninth-place finish last term, 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 their 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 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.