Sheffield United: How new boss Slavisa Jokanovic spent the five weeks before he took over at Bramall Lane
Exactly five weeks separated the announcement that Slavisa Jokanović would be the new Sheffield United manager and his official start date at Bramall Lane, and it’s fair to say that the Serb did not let the grass grow under his feet as he prepared to return to England.
Jokanović missed the first few days of United pre-season training as he saw out the final weeks of his contract in Qatar, but was briefed with regular updates on how his squad were approaching their business before he met them in person for the first time on July 1.
The transition was not completely smooth – Jokanović admitted to The Star that he had called some of his charges by the wrong name on his first day, before learning quickly and not making the same mistake again – but was helped by some detailed research into United’s playing staff and the reasons behind their abject relegation to the Championship last season.
“I have watched the games. The club sent me a lot of the matches, and my staff also checked the players. We tried to find the reason behind the injuries. I tried to use the period to learn about the club and the team, so I was ready for the job when I arrived.
“I also spoke to many people. I spoke with Paul Heckingbottom and with people who had worked with the team. Stephen Bettis (chief executive) and (head of football administration) Carl Shieber, and Jan [van Winckel, United’s de facto director of football.
“There were a lot of conferences that month.”
Oliver Norwood, who worked under Jokanović to help Fulham into the Premier League, was another source of information on the United squad. Jokanović has also previously risen from this division at Watford, earning a reputation as something of a promotion specialist, but is keen to look forward rather than back.
“This is completely different,” Jokanović added. “A lot of people say how Fulham played very good football. I am not sure if Watford did not play better football, but it is all down to someone’s opinion.
“It is not necessary to compare anything. This is a new club, a new city and new players.”