Sheffield United Manager - Sheffield United News


Full Name: Paul Heckingbottom
Age: 45
Date Of Birth: July 17, 1977
Height: 5 ft 11
Place Of Birth: Barnsley
Nationality: English

Sheffield United appointed Paul Heckingbottom as the club’s latest manager in November 2021 after sacking Slavisa Jokanovic. He has since guided the Blades to promotion back into the Premier League.

Bramall Lane chiefs sought to hire Heckingbottom to replace Jokanovic after previously acting as the interim manager. The Englishman had briefly stood at the helm in South Yorkshire when Chris Wilder vacated the role in March 2021. But he returned to his job coaching Sheffield United’s academy side.

Jokanovic only lasted 22 games as Wilder’s permanent replacement having won just eight and drawn five of their fixtures. So, Sheffield United appointed Heckingbottom as the club’s latest manager with an initial contract to June 2026. His tenure would also yield a top-flight berth for the 2023/24 season.

Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Sheffield United manager Paul Heckingbottom’s coaching career

Heckingbottom worked as the manager of Barnsley, Leeds United and Hibernian before taking charge of Sheffield United’s Under-21s in July 2020. The Tykes handed their former defender his big break as a coach in February 2016. His time at Oakwell would also last for two years and featured 105 fixtures.

Barnsley initially named Heckingbottom as their caretaker first-team manager, despite him having no previous coaching experience, after parting company with Lee Johnson. Yet he enjoyed instant joy in the role as the Tykes would seal promotion into the Championship through the League One play-offs.

Heckingbottom would also keep Barnsley in the second-tier and continued to impress Leeds’ owner, Andrea Radrizzani. So much so the Whites poached the tactician in February 2018, just days after he signed a new rolling contract with Barnsley. But his time at Elland Road proved to be very short-lived.

Radrizzani viewed Heckingbottom as Leeds’ top target to replace Thomas Christiansen. But their axe fell on the Englishman’s tenure after just 16 games having lost half of his fixtures. The Whites won in just four of Heckingbottom’s 16 games across all competitions while conceding 27 goals to 18 scored.

His phone would not ring for eight months before Hibernian sought to appoint Heckingbottom come February 2019. Yet Hibs would come to rue the decision and sacked the tactician that November. He had won just 12 and drawn 10 of his 32 matches at Easter Road while failing to win any of his last 11.

So, Heckingbottom sought to edge his career back on track in July 2020 by becoming the manager of Sheffield United’s academy side. His work with the Blades’ U21s and as Wilder’s interim replacement would ultimately impress the Bramall Lane natives’ decision-makers enough to get their top position.

Photo by Robin Jones/Getty Images

Paul Heckingbottom’s coaching career

Sheffield United (November 2021 – June 2026 expected)

Sheffield United (Interim, March 2021 – June 2021)

Under-21, Sheffield United (July 2020 – November 2021)

Hibernian (February 2019 – November 2019)

Leeds United (February 2018 – June 2018)

Barnsley (February 2016 – February 2018)

Paul Heckingbottom’s playing career

Before turning his hand to coaching with Barnsley in 2016, Sheffield United manager Heckingbottom enjoyed a 17-year playing career. His CV would also feature spells at Sunderland, Darlington, Norwich City, Bradford City, Sheffield Wednesday, Barnsley, Mansfield Town, Gateshead and Harrogate Town.

Yet it was in Manchester United’s academy where Heckingbottom first began developing his trade as a left-back. He then headed to Sunderland in 1995 but failed to break through at the club between three loan spells away. Darlington later gave Heckingbottom a permanent deal in 1999 after his initial loan.

Life at Darlington brought the best out of Heckingbottom as he found a home on the pitch. The next three years would also yield 135 appearances across all competitions before joining Norwich in 2002. But the move to Carrow Road marked the start of his nomadic path that only ended with retirement.

Heckingbottom never found a home with any of his other teams like he had at Darlington before the defender hung up his boots in 2012. Norwich even agreed to cancel his contract by mutual consent a year after the left-back’s arrival. While injuries curtailed his promising career at Sheffield Wednesday.

Owls coaches Chris Turner and Paul Sturrock leaned heavily on Heckingbottom in his first season with the club. But his injuries opened the door for John Hills to take over the position and Heckingbottom left after two years. Failing to then find a forever home would later lead him into non-league in 2009.

Paul Heckingbottom at Sheffield United

Photo by Michael Regan – The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Wilder left Sheffield United after nearly five years in March 2021 with the Bramall Lane outfit bottom of the Premier League. Heckingbottom took charge on an interim basis until the end of the season. But he could not prevent their relegation into the Championship after taking three wins across his 10 games.

Jokanovic’s poor tenure in South Yorkshire would offer Heckingbottom the chance to be the full-time manager of Sheffield United, though. The Englishman would seize his opportunity by winning each of his first three games in charge. He would also go on to lead the Blades into the play-offs in fifth place.

A 2-1 defeat at home to Nottingham Forest put Sheffield United on the back foot in their quest for an immediate return to the top-flight. But the Blades rallied at the City Ground and forced the semi-final to a penalty shootout. Yet the Reds would progress to Wembley, where they beat Huddersfield Town.

Heckingbottom and Sheffield United would use their play-off heartbreak to fuel another promotion challenge in 2022/23, though. While Burnley ran away with the title, the Blades followed the Clarets into the top-flight as the runners-up. Sheffield United also secured their berth with fixtures to spare.

The 2022/23 season also saw Heckingbottom lead Sheffield United on the road to Wembley in the FA Cup. He guided the Blades into the semi-finals of the oldest national football competition in the world before losing 3-0 to Manchester City. Their route to the final four featured a 1-0 win over Tottenham.