Slavisa Jokanovic leaves Sheffield United manager’s role as damning statement released

Paul Heckingbottom has been handed a deal until 2026 to take over Sheffield United, who are currently 16th in the Championship, eight points above the relegation zone, after winning just six of their first 19 league games this season

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  • 13:27, 25 Nov 2021
  • Updated13:57, 25 Nov 2021
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Sheffield United have appointed Paul Heckingbottom as their new manager on a four-and-a-half-year deal after parting company with Slavisa Jokanovic.

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The Serbian coach has left the club after just six months in charge, with U23 boss Heckingbottom stepping into the hot seat.

Heckingbottom was United's interim manager last season following the departure of Chris Wilder, winning three of his ten Premier League games in charge to impress the club's hierachy.

Jokanovic – United's first overseas boss – leaves the team 16th in the Championship, eight points above the relegation zone.

The Blades were tipped for promotion at the start of the season but have won just six of their 19 league fixtures so far.

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Paul Heckingbottom is the new Sheffield United manager
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Image:
Ian MacNicol)

Jokanovic's final game was the 1-0 victory at Reading on Tuesday, an evening overshadowed by midfielder John Fleck collapsing on the pitch.

In a statement to announce his exit, the Blades focused more on his replacement, with little in the way of tribute or acknowledgement to Jokanovic.

"Sheffield United and Slaviša Jokanović have parted company, with Paul Heckingbottom installed as the club’s football manager," the statement read.

"Following several months of strategic planning and a lacklustre start to the season, the board decided that a change was in the best long-term interests of the club."

The relationship between Jokanovic and the club's hierachy is believed to have frayed over his lack of funds in the transfer market, signing one player on a free and four on loan.

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Sheffield United star John Fleck rushed to hospital in ambulance after collapsing on pitch

First-choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale was also sold to Arsenal 11 days before the transfer deadline.

United were relegated from the Premier League last season after losing 29 of their 38 fixtures under previous manager Wilder and caretaker Heckingbottom.

Following in the footsteps of Wilder was always going to be a challenging task for Jokanovic, as the boyhood Blade led the club from League One to the top flight.

Heckingbottom, who played for Sheffield Wednesday, has previously managed Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian and was appointed United's U23 boss in July 2020.

Stuart McCall, who was the Blades' assistant manager under Neil Warnock between 2004 and 2007, has returned to the position – leaving Blackpool.

Slavisa Jokanovic has left Sheffield United after six months in charge
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Image:
Getty Images)

United have also appointed Jack Lester – another former player – as their new head of player development.

"We look forward to embarking on a new era in Blades football with Paul at the helm," said chairman Yusuf Giansiracusa.

"Paul possesses the personal leadership qualities and technical football skills the board feels are essential to successfully implement the board’s strategic directives.

"He shares our values and interest in player development while also possessing the ambition and determination to get the most out of our current squad.

"We are convinced that Paul will play a leading role in improving all aspects of football operations."

The Blades are currently 16th in the Championship

Blades CEO Stephen Bettis added: "Disappointingly, after a slow start, we have not seen an improvement in results, performances and we’d prefer to be in a better league position.

"A decision has been made and now it is important that we look forward, Paul’s style and ethos matches that of the club and we will support him where possible.

"We have enough league games remaining, we know we have the ability and resources within our playing squad to start picking up points and climbing the league table.”

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