Sheffield United have sacked Slavia Jokanovic and hired Paul Heckingbottom as the Serbian’s immediate replacement.
Jokanovic took charge as permanent manager from Heckingbottom shortly upon completion of last season following relegation from the Premier League, yet the Blades have made a difficult start to life back in the Championship after two seasons as they sit 16th in the table after 19 matches.
Sheffield Utd’s board have consequently decided to relieve Jokanovic of his duties after months of ‘strategic planning’ and a ‘lacklustre start’ to the current season and re-hire Heckingbottom on a four-and-a-half year deal until June 2026.
Heckingbottom previously took interim charge for the final two months of last season following Chris Wilder’s departure but will now bring in a new backroom team including; former player – Jack Lester as Head of Player Development and Stuart McCall who will be Assistant Manager.
Blades Chairman, Yusuf Giansiracusa has explained the decision to re-hire Heckingbottom as he commented: “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.”
Utd’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Bettis added that the board would “prefer to be in a better league position”, with the target of promotion back to the top-flight but insists that fans should look forward as both he and Giansiracusa failed to mention Jokanovic in their statements.
Bettis also iterated that the club “will support” Heckingbottom where possible with the 44 year-old’s “style and ethos” matching the club’s ambitions.
Sheffield United currently sit eight points outside the final play-off spot currently occupied by Stoke City but Bettis is confident of a promotion tilt via the play-offs, as he added: “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.”
Heckingbottom’s first match as permanent manager of Sheffield United sees the Blades host Bristol City on Sunday 28 November in an untelevised Championship clash at Bramall Lane.