Manager linked with Sheffield United set to be in high demand
Sheffield United are unlikely to be the only club interested in hiring Slavisa Jokanovic should he decide to return to England later this year, with a number of Premier League and Championship clubs also known to be considering their options following disappointing seasons.
Despite appearing tailor-made for the vacant position at Bramall Lane, which was created when Chris Wilder’s five year reign came to an end a fortnight ago, the former Watford and Fulham head coach has not approached United - or been contacted by them - about the possibility of taking charge.
However, given his credentials, that has not been enough to quash speculation that officials in South Yorkshire should consider appointing him to the role. But, after winning promotions with both Watford and Fulham before joining the Doha based Al-Ghafar, Jokanovic will be in high demand if he leaves the Middle East when his contract expires at the end of the Qatari season.
West Bromwich Albion, who have been linked with a move for Wilder if Sam Allardyce departs The Hawthorns, are also likely to view Jokanovic as a viable option thanks to his links with their sporting director Luke Dowling. The two men worked together at Vicarage Road, where they are known to have enjoyed a good relationship.
Although Jokanovic has yet to reveal whether or not he plans to extend his agreement with Al-Ghafar when their campaign finishes next month, the fact his family remain based in Europe has prompted speculation he will look to return to the country where he also represented Chelsea as a player.
United, who have received what one source describes as “numerous” applications from “a variety” of candidates hoping to succeed Wilder, are refusing to be rushed into drawing-up a final shortlist of names after being impressed by how Paul Heckingbottom has handled himself since being installed as caretaker.
But with their pre-season schedule yet to be finalised, they are aware of the need not to draw-out the selection process any longer than necessary.
Despite his preference for doing things ‘by the book’ - which means not attempting to influence it or disrespect his present employers - it would be a major surprise if Jokanovic was not considered; particularly given that his presence would help quell discontent among a support base still saddened by the loss of Wilder, who led United from the third to the first tier of English football in only three seasons before steering them to a ninth placed finish last term.
Although internal wrangling was ultimately responsible for Wilder’s demise, United entered the international break 14 points adrift of safety with only nine matches remaining - meaning whoever steps into the breach would also benefit from being able to properly prepare their squad for the rigors of Championship football.
Jason Tindall, who was parachuted into United’s coaching staff to assist Heckingbottom, is experienced at EFL level having both managed AFC Bournemouth and worked under Eddie Howe during their rise through the divisions.
He will join Heckingbottom on the touchline when they travel to Leeds next weekend.