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.
“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.”
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.
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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.