Relegated Sheffield Utd ends miserable EPL season on a high

SHEFFIELD, England — Sheffield United finished a miserable season on a high note as the Premier League’s last-place team beat Burnley 1-0 in front of its returning supporters at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

David McGoldrick, voted the club’s player of the year this week, scored his eighth league goal midway through the first half as the Blades won for just the seventh time this season.

Three of those victories came in the nine matches under the stewardship of interim manager Paul Heckingbottom, who is likely to now return to his role with the under-23 squad.

United finished bottom of the standings on 23 points, three off next-to-last West Bromwich Albion and 16 from fourth-to-last Burnley. The team has known its fate for some time and will now look to appoint a permanent successor to Chris Wilder, who left in March after just over 4 1/2 years in charge.

Heckingbottom used his pre-match news conference in the buildup to the game to call for clarity regarding the new manager and urged the board to make an announcement shortly after Sunday’s match, which was the first played at Bramall Lane in front of supporters since March 7 last year.

Then, the Blades beat Norwich 1-0 to continue their challenge for a place in Europe. Things have changed drastically in their absence but fans at least had a farewell win to take back to the Championship.

Burnley was without Nick Pope for the third straight game because of a knee injury and manager Sean Dyche is unsure whether the goalkeeper will be fit for the European Championship starting next month.

The 29-year-old Pope will undergo surgery on Tuesday, the day England coach Gareth Southgate names his 26-man squad for the tournament.

Although Jordan Pickford is widely recognized as England’s No. 1, Pope was in possession of the gloves having started all three games in the most recent international break.

“It’s nothing too serious, we don’t think, but it still needed doing,” Dyche said.

“He was trying to get right for this game to give it a test but didn’t quite come through in training, so he and we have had to make a judgment call on that. It’s mainly down to him. It was awkward and sore, there’s some cartilage and he could feel a clicking in his knee. He’s had to take the decision to have the operation, it’s a tough decision, and we don’t know how long it will take to settle.

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