Sheffield United set to finalise their managerial shortlist, as a new possibility emerges
Sheffield United are applying the finishing touches to the shortlist of names hoping to become their new manager, with owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud willing to consider applications from overseas.
As The Star revealed last week, former Watford and Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic would be willing to discuss the vacancy created by Chris Wilder’s departure nearly three weeks ago if, as expected, he leaves Qatari club Al-Gharafa next month and receives an approach from Bramall Lane’s board.
Javier Pereira, who worked with the Serb at both Vicarage Road and Craven Cottage as well as in Israel at Maccabi Tel Aviv, is also thought to be viewed as a potential candidate as owner Prince Abdullah and his footballing advisor Jan van Winckel orchestrate the selection process.
Pereira is currently in charge of Chinese Super League side Henan Songshan Longmen, but with spending across the competition now being reined in following years of financial largesse, many foreign coaches and players are expected to seek new opportunities in Europe. Pereira, aged 54, has also previously worked as a director of football operations and so would be comfortable operating within the type of structure Bramall Lane’s hierarchy is thought to be considering implementing in South Yorkshire.
Although Jokanovic appears tailor-made for the United job, and would be the preferred choice of many United supporters to succeed Wilder given his proven track record of delivering promotion from the Championship, the former Chelsea midfielder has yet to be contacted about the role.
With United preparing for this weekend’s derby against Leeds at the bottom of the Premier League table and 14 points adrift of safety with only nine matches remaining, Jokanovic’s knowledge of the English Football League and willingness to develop young players could prove invaluable at a club destined for relegation and hoping to reinvigorate its youth academy.
Despite reportedly offering Wilder’s assistant Alan Knill the opportunity to become United’s new director of football, Prince Abdullah insisted during a recent interview with a competition rights-holder that he will not be installing a DoF either “next season” or beyond.
However, the Saudi Arabian did confirm that he wants United to adopt a different approach towards scouting and recruitment after expressing concerns about the calibre of some recent purchases.
Wilder, who led United from the third to the first tier of the domestic game during five years in charge, is known to disagree with that assertion, believing a failure to land his leading targets after last term’s ninth placed finish contributed to their poor results over the past six months.
United are known to have received a number of applications from managers and head coaches currently working in England, with Jason Tindall another possible option after joining caretaker Paul Heckingbottom’s backroom staff.
Driving forces behind the United World project - an umbrella organisation of teams including Beerschot, Al Hilal United, Kerala United and United themselves - in the future they could look to funnel coaches through the system as well as players; preventing the type of situation which saw Hernan Losada, previously of Beerschot, join MLS franchise DC United after establishing an impressive reputation during his spell in Belgium.