New Sheffield United manager: Blades close to making big announcement with Slavisa Jokanovic on the brink

Sheffield United are confident their search for a new manager is drawing to a close, after holding their second round of talks in 48 hours with one of the candidates vying to replace Chris Wilder.

By James Shield
Thursday, 27th May 2021, 10:52 am

After confirming earlier this week that negotiations between the two parties had reached an advanced stage, The Star understands more discussions between Bramall Lane’s hierarchy and the individual concerned took place throughout yesterday after a series of key agreements were reached in principle.

As this newspaper first revealed, Slavisa Jokanovic previously of Watford and Fulham, was approached about the possibility of taking charge at the beginning of the month. The Serb is set to leave Qatari club Al-Gharafa when his contract expires shortly.

Having previously considered KV Oostende’s Alexander Blessin, until it became clear he would not qualify for a work permit, United identified Philippe Clement of Club Brugge as a possible alternative should Jokanovic prove unobtainable.

Serbian manager Slavisa Jokanovic: GEOFF CADDICK/AFP via Getty Images

West Bromwich Albion have also been linked with the Serb, who worked with their sporting director at Vicarage Road. But directors there are thought to view Wilder, whose reign in South Yorkshire ended in March, as a more realistic option.

Speaking after their stay in the Premier League officially came to an end on Sunday - United’s waving goodbye to the top-flight with a 1-0 win over Burnley - caretaker Paul Heckingbottom admitted a quick appointment would be “beneficial” for “everyone concerned” after appearing to suggest he is preparing to resume his role with the under-23’s. Several members of the squad he worked with before stepping into the breach on an interim basis made their senior debuts during the second half of the campaign, including midfielder Iliman Ndiaye and striker Daniel Jebbison.

At one stage, soon after United were forced to cool their interest in Blessin, Heckingbottom was also viewed as a serious contender to succeed Wilder having previously managed Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian before returning to South Yorkshire.

Jokanovic, who represented Yugoslavia, Partizan Belgrade and Chelsea as a player, won promotion from the Championship in both Hertfordshire before heading to the Middle East in 2019, where he was nominated as coach of the year last term.