Are Sheffield United the worst of the worst teams in Europe?

After Saturday’s awful performance at Bramall Lane, in a must-win game, Sheffield United supporters have voiced their opinion on whether or not keeping Paul Heckingbottom in charge is the right thing to do.

But this isn’t news to some. A portion of the fan base have been calling for a new manager for weeks, dating back to the 8-0 defeat to Newcastle.

I must stress, losing 8-0 to Newcastle didn’t hit me twice as hard as getting bullied and outplayed by Bournemouth, on our own patch, against a team you’re supposed to be competing against. At least heading into that game.

Are Sheffield United the worst top-flight team in Europe?

We’re certainly in the lower echelons. The eye test suggests it – the shocking statistics prove it.

Offensively we look like we’ve never kicked a ball in our lives. So what do we actually do in training? I cannot for the life of me figure out what our style of play is.

All I see is players standing still when we’re on the ball. There’s no interchanging of positions, creating space or creating an overload in midfield or out wide. So now we’re in a position where we can’t pass the ball into the final third because our players are covered, hence being the second-worst team in Europe at passing in the final third (19.6 per game).

That’s also the reason why we have the worst shots on target in Europe’s top-flight (2.63). Zero creativity and fluidity in terms of our attacking structure.

We can’t progress the ball via passing, and we can’t progress the ball via a carry either; our progressive carries per game is the lowest in Europe (8.08).

I’ve mentioned it looks like we’ve never kicked a ball,  whenever we have possession. What about the other way?

Defensively I have to laugh to myself. It genuinely reminds me of primary school playground days – when everybody would just get drawn to the ball, leaving multiple players in space.

We made AFC Bournemouth look like FC Barcelona last Saturday.

Overall this campaign, we have given up the most shots on target per game (7.54) and the third-worst xGA per game (2.22) in Europe’s top divisions.

The defence is being overworked; they’re exposed because of the weak midfield in front of them: Oli Norwood and Vinicius Souza. There isn’t enough energy and quickness between them to cover ground, so it’s easy for opponents to split them apart.

Then once teams create a clear passing lane into their strikers, they play it into his feet, hence the Blades being 91st (out of 96) in opposition passes into the box. In addition, teams are averaging almost 40 touches per game in our penalty area – the worst in Europe.

(all stats taken from FBref).


I’m not here to tell you Paul Heckingbottom should go, or he should stay. You watch us week in week out, you’ve seen the statistics – you have your opinion on the matter. We aren’t improving, despite picking up four points against Wolves and Brighton.

But ultimately we aren’t in the mind of Prince Abdullah. Perhaps he believes Heckingbottom can turn this around…Or maybe he’s written this campaign off and he trusts him to win promotion next season.

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