Sheffield United Promoted Back To The Premier League After Two Years Away

Paul Heckingbottom has led the Blades back to the top flight
21:56, 26 Apr 2023

Sheffield United have done it! They’ve confirmed their automatic promotion back to the Premier League by sealing second spot with a 2-0 win over West Bromwich Albion. Goals from Sander Berge and Anel Ahmedhodžić were enough to take the Blades back to the top flight, after they came so close last time around. 

Paul Heckingbottom, not even nominated for Championship Manager of the Season at the EFL awards, has done a sterling job and deserves huge praise. He came in at the end of November 2021, with the club sat 16th in the second tier having picked up just 23 points under the tenure of Slavisa Jokanovic. 

When Chris Wilder left that previous summer, Jokanovic was seen as a coup for the Blades, given he had led both Fulham and Watford to promotions from this level. Yet things didn’t work out, and some onlookers were slightly underwhelmed when Heckingbottom, then u23s manager, was given the first-team gig. 


For many it was a cost-cutting exercise from the club, but over a stunning 18 months, Heckingbottom has given them the biggest return on their faith: promotion back to the richest league in the world after a wonderful Championship campaign. And the Blades were pretty good over the second half of last season too. 

With Morgan Gibbs-White and the emerging Iliman Ndiaye, Heckingbottom managed to get them playing wonderful football and winning matches. They climbed into the play-off only to be thwarted by Nottingham Forest on penalties in the semi-final after a brilliant second leg comeback took the game to spot-kicks. 

It was a devastating blow for the Blades, but one that didn’t blunt their aspirations. Coming back from a defeat like that, and losing Morgan Gibbs-White over the summer, could have been enough to derail the squad. But instead, Heckingbottom set his sights on the top two - avoiding the agony of a play-off defeat. 


And they’ve been consistent throughout. With Iliman Ndiaye taking centre stage and the addition of star Manchester City loanees James McAtee and Tommy Doyle, United have managed to win crucial games at crucial times. Experience has also played a huge factor. In Oliver Norwood, Sander Berge and John Egan, they’ve got a spine of players who know what it takes to win matches at this level and have the quality to do so. 

The arrival of Anel Ahmedhodžić was also a major coup. He’s been arguably the standout centre-back in the second tier and brought a sense of calm and composure to United’s back three, even in high-pressure situations. 

The Blades were top of the league throughout September and have held second spot since November 2nd, helped by an unbeaten run that stretched from November through to February. They’ve been unable to win the title or put any genuine pressure on champions Burnley, but they have been undoubtedly the second best side in the division. And that takes some doing. 

The last time they got up to the Premier League, following a rapid rise under Chris Wilder, they finished 9th in their first season, before relegation in the second season. That was the year no fans were allowed in under Covid-19 restrictions and the Blades didn’t win a game until January. It’s not how their Premier League dream should have ended, but now, thanks to Heckingbottom, they are going to get another crack at it next term. A packed Bramall Lane can celebrate once again, Sheffield United are back in the top flight. 

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