By Sean Taylor, PA
Sheffield United finished a miserable season with a 1-0 win against Burnley in front of their own supporters at Bramall Lane.
David McGoldrick, this week voted the club’s player of the year, scored his eighth Premier League goal of the campaign midway through the first half as the Blades won for just the seventh time in the league this season.
Three of those victories came in the nine matches under the stewardship of interim boss Paul Heckingbottom, who is likely to now return to his role with the under-23 squad.
The relegated Blades, who finished bottom of the table, have known their fate for some time and will now look to appoint a permanent successor to Chris Wilder, who left in March after just over four and a half years in charge.
Heckingbottom used his pre-match press conference in the build-up to the game to call for clarity regarding the new manager and urged the board to make an announcement shortly after Sunday’s final match of the season.
Sunday’s match was the first played at Bramall Lane in front of supporters since March 7 last year, when the Blades beat Norwich 1-0 to continue their challenge for a place in Europe.
Things have changed drastically in their absence and the home fans saw their team start slowly as a succession of corners either side of the 10-minute mark saw Burnley make a bright start. However, the Blades survived the early pressure and took the lead after 24 minutes.
McGoldrick netted his ninth goal of the season with a fine curling finish from 25 yards out which found the bottom corner of the net following a driving run after receiving the ball midway inside the Burnley half.
Will Norris should probably have done better and you could not help but feel that if Nick Pope was in the Burnley goal then he would have saved the shot.
Pope remained absent and could be a doubt for Euro 2020 after the club announced prior to kick off he will undergo surgery next week on the knee injury that has seen him miss the Clarets’ final three matches of the season.
The 29-year-old will be assessed to see if he will make England’s squad for the tournament, which is named on Tuesday.
Burnley offered little in reply and Chris Basham came close to a second goal when he thumped a fierce shot against a post following a corner.
McGoldrick had a couple of chances to score his and the Blades’ second goal of the game early in the second half but the ball got stuck under his feet inside the penalty area, before he looped a header over the crossbar shortly afterwards.
Burnley’s best chance of an equalising goal came with 11 minutes remaining but nobody in a Clarets shirt could turn the ball home following a big goalmouth scramble.
Club-record signing Rhian Brewster’s wait for his first Blades goal will extend into next season as Norris got down well to smother his low shot from 20 yards.
The hosts survived some late pressure, with Jack Robinson having to clear the ball from just in front of his own goal line after Chris Wood tried to poke it home, but the Blades held on comfortably in the end for a rare but deserved victory.