Sheffield United have confirmed that manager Chris Wilder has left the club after almost five years in charge.
Wilder has left with the Blades bottom of the Premier League, with 14 points from 28 games.
The ex-Sheffield United defender became manager of the Yorkshire club in May 2016 and took them from League One to the Premier League in that time.
“Being manager of Sheffield United has been a special journey and one I’ll never forget,” said Wilder.
A statement from the Bramall Lane club said the 53-year-old had left by mutual consent following discussions between the board and Wilder.
The club also confirmed Under-23s manager Paul Heckingbottom will take charge of the side for the rest of the campaign.
“We are confident that all Blades fans around the world will join us in thanking Chris for his hard work, commitment and expertise in driving the club,” said a Blades statement.
“Now the club will turn its attention to completing the season as strongly as possible and, if we are relegated, to preparing for the Championship.
“We confirm our intention to keep the core of the player group together and will continue to invest further in the academy and the first team, to place us in the best possible position for the future.”
Sheffield United finished an impressive ninth in the Premier League last season in their first year back in the top-flight.
This season has proved a real struggle and they have endured the worst start to a season in Premier League history, although they have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals.
Their first league win did not come until 12 January, in their 18th game, when they beat Newcastle.
“Today is a sad day for everyone at this great football club,” said Blades striker Oli McBurnie on social media.
“Thank you for everything you did for me and my family gaffer, I will never forget it.
“We truly shared some fantastic times on and off the pitch together. Sorry we let you down in the end.”
Former Barnsley, Leeds United and Hibernian manager Heckingbottom’s coaching set-up will include ex-Bournemouth manager Jason Tindall, who will join the club on Monday.
Heckingbottom said: “We have a lot of work to do, but have a great support network, all of whom will bring valuable knowledge and experience, as we look to finish the season strongly.”
Sheffield United were praised for their style in their first season back in the Premier League, securing eye-catching wins against Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham on their way to a top-10 finish.
However, they have been unable to build on that this term, picking up just 14 points from four wins and two draws so far, losing their other 22 league games.
- They had 43 points at the same stage last season
- Just six clubs in top-flight history have recorded fewer points at this stage
- By failing to beat Crystal Palace in their 17th match this season, they set the record for the longest winless start to a Premier League campaign
- Their 20 Premier League games without a clean sheet is the longest current run in the division
- Their win at Old Trafford in January was their only away league victory of the season so far
- Only once before have Sheffield United picked up fewer points after 28 league games (10 points in 1976, when it was two points for a win)
What went wrong for Wilder?
Simon Stone, BBC Sport football reporter
There have been major issues behind the scenes with Sheffield-born Wilder and club owner Prince Abdullah.
The owner felt he had provided funds for new players, including significant spending on strikers Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie, over the past two seasons with limited success.
However, Wilder felt this did not go far enough to strengthen his squad to the level required, which led to further tensions.
When the club opted not to bring in new players in January, Wilder knew there was a major issue given the Blades’ terrible start to the season.
‘Close to my heart’
Former Northampton Town boss Wilder led the Cobblers to the League Two title before joining his boyhood club.
Speaking to BBC Radio Northampton about his support for the Blades in an interview in 2014, he said: “I was fortunate enough to play and captain my hometown team and it is a place that is close to my heart.
“I was a ball-boy there and I’d go to the game with my pals when I was younger. When I was playing, if I was ever out of the team, I would go and watch them.”
Wilder led Sheffield United to promotion from League One in his first season in charge as they won the 2016-17 title with a club-record 100 points.
After a season of consolidation in the Championship, the Blades were promoted to the Premier League in 2019 by finishing second, ending their 12-year absence from the top flight.
Watch: Wilder’s last interview as Sheffield United manager