How Slavisa Jokanovic's appointment as Sheffield United manager was confirmed over lunch in Switzerland
The deal that saw Slavisa Jokanovic agree to become Sheffield United’s new manager was sealed over lunch inside one of Geneva’s most desirable eateries, according to residents at one of the city’s leading hotels.
Diners at the venue today reported spotting the Serb and HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the United owner, sitting together at a quiet corner table, deep in discussion, as they picked away at their food.
It was the meeting, after a series of calls via video conferencing app Zoom, when the pair shook hands for the very first time. And, before the main course had been delivered by the immaculately tailored waiting staff, agreed to pool their resources in order to try and bring Premier League football back to Bramall Lane following last season’s relegation.
Doing that, delivering top-flight football to English clubs, is Jokanovic’s speciality. The former Yugoslavia, Chelsea and Deportivo La Coruna midfielder has two promotions from the Championship on his coaching CV; taking Fulham up via the play-offs in 2018, three years after guiding Watford into the second automatic position.
Prince Abdullah, who told the club’s official website that it became “evident” during an “exhaustive evaluation” that Jokanovic was perfect for the role, divides his time between Beverly Hills, is homeland Saudi Arabia and Switzerland - with the French-speaking region of Romandy being a favourite destination.
In the past he has used Dubai, where United recently established a sister club, and Paris as a base for negotiations with managers and coaching staff; once summoning Jokanovic’s predecessor Chris Wilder to the French capital for talks about a new contract.
Abdullah Alghamdi, who fronts the United World project, is also based in Geneva and was pictured with Jokanovic and Prince Abdullah on an Instagram post, published by the latter, to confirm the appointment.
Jokanovic will officially take up his new role at the end of next month, when his contract with Qatari club Al-Gharafa expires. However, by announcing Jokanovic’s arrival, United can now press ahead with identifying their targets ahead of the forthcoming transfer window and finalising a complete pre-season training programme.