Sheffield United: "I like him but we will fight and look to kick each other hard'

Slavisa Jokanovic says neither he nor Neil Warnock will take a backwards step on the touchline at the Riverside tonight, despite revealing the mutual respect which exists between them.

Tuesday, 28th September 2021, 5:00 am

Speaking ahead of Sheffield United’s visit to Middlesbrough, the club where his predecessor is now in charge, Jokanovic described the 72-year-old as “one of my favourite coaches in English football” before confirming they plan to share a glass of wine together afterwards.

Warnock, who led United into the Premier League 16 seasons ago, is viewed as one of Bramall Lane’s greatest ever managers having also reached the last four of both major cup competitions during his spell in charge.

Acknowledging he also admires his opposite number on a personal level, Jokanovic inistsed sentiment will not dull either man’s competitive instincts, saying: “During the game, we can fight and shout at each other. But afterwards, we can have a glass of wine of a bottle of wine together.

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Slavisa Jokanovic: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“I am from abroad and when I first came here, people probably wondered ‘Who is he and what is he doing here?’ But over time, Neil and I got to know each other professionally and personally.

“Don’t misinterpret my words in the wrong direction. We are not best friends who see each other all the time. But I really enjoy his company.”

After making a slow start to his own career in South Yorkshire, Jokanovic has overseen a dramatic improvement in United’s results of late with last weekend’s win over Derby County stretching their unbeaten run in the Championship to five matches. Like Warnock, who has taken seven teams up during a remarkable career stretching over four decades, Jokanovic is also viewed as a promotion specialist having steered Watford and Fulham into the top-flight before taking charge of United in July.

“I have challenged Neil a lot of times,” Jokanovic said. “I have beaten him, I have lost to him and I have drawn with him, but he has always shown great respect.

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“I expect he will look to kick me hard here and I will look to kick him hard also, so that I can enjoy my glass of wine more than him. We are different people in different places, but I like him professionally and also personally.”