Wilder’s Sheffield United exit ‘felt like it was coming’, admits Sharp after new Blades era starts with 5-0 thrashing by Leicester

The 53-year-old left Bramall Lane this week following almost five years at the helm, having taken the club from League One to the top flight

Billy Sharp has admitted that he had guessed Sheffield United were set to part company with Chris Wilder but admitted that the manager’s departure was still something of a shock for his squad.

The Blades split with the 53-year-old after almost five years in charge at Bramall Lane earlier this week, with the club rooted firmly at the bottom of the Premier League and set for relegation.

Former Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom took charge of Sunday’s game, a 5-0 drubbing against Leicester City to further compound their woes, but forward Sharp acknowledged that the writing had been on the wall for Wilder while stressing that the club are far behind the standards they have set for themselves.

What has Sharp said?

“I have felt it was coming but it’s always a shock when it happens,” the veteran striker told Sky Sports, before turning to his side’s showing at the King Power Stadium. “It’s no excuse but we went out there and put on a performance which was unnacceptable.

“Whoever has gone out there this season, we have been poor. We have let each other down. We had one month where we picked up some good results and built some momemtum then it’s been back to where it was. We have lost what we had.”

Sharp further slated his side’s poor team spirit and commitment, stressing that their display against the Foxes was among the most dire he had played a part in since he rejoined the club in 2015.

“We need to stick together,” he added. “It’s the only way. It’s what we have built for four or five seasons. We need to do it in training. Training has slipped. Individual standards have slipped which goes through the team.

“When you come out on a Saturday there is a lack of belief. Today was terrible and one of the worst performances since I’ve been back at the club.

“It was always going to be difficult but the way we conceded those goals and the way we were on the ball was very poor.”

Heckingbottom on “idol” Wilder

A hat-trick for Kelechi Iheanacho helped ensure that the ex-Hibernian boss got off to the worst possible start after stepping up from the club’s under-23 setup on an interim basis, but the 43-year-old vowed to help his side build towards a future likely to see them back in the second tier.

“From the start [we were poor],” he added. “we can make all the excuses in the world. It’s an upset dressing room in there. They boys’ leader has gone, it’s taken its toll on the players and staff today.

“We know hard work starts next week. It’s not nice to be in that dressing room right there. We’ve just been chatting in there, if confidence was something you could just click your fingers it’ll be easy.

“[We need] a recognition of what the team has done to get here. Five years ago this team was in League One. [We need] a recognition of that and try to get back to those levels.

“I’ll take the team till the end of the season and we’ve now got to organise until then. I’m thinking about helping the players and the club.

“It’s difficult because we’ve lost Chris [Wilder] who was a mate to me and many more. He was an idol to the fans. We’ve got to put things right for next season.”

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