Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic was always set for the chop no matter what happened at Reading

Slavisa Jokanovic was still destined to be sacked as Sheffield United manager regardless of this week’s result at Reading, chairman Yusuf Giansiracusa has confirmed.

Friday, 26th November 2021, 6:55 am

The Serb was relieved of his duties yesterday morning, after less than five months in charge, when Bramall Lane’s hierarchy decided he did not fit the club’s strategic vision according to Giansiracusa.

Describing the long term contract awarded to Jokanovic’s replacement Paul Heckingbottom as a sign of their faith in the former academy coach, Giansiracusa insisted Tuesday’s events at the Select Car Leasing Stadium, where United triumphed 1-0, had no bearing on the 53-year-old’s fate.

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Slavisa Jokanovic has been sacked as Sheffield United manager: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“Had we won 5-0 at Reading, it wouldn’t have changed a thing,” Giansiracusa said. “We are not basing this decision based on this match or that match. It’s driven by a long term strategic vision.”

Asked why United’s hierarchy had appointed Jokanovic in the first place before, by their own admission, formulating that masterplan, Giansiracusa replied: “I think you are assuming there us always a complete knowledge of the relevant facts. You make an assumption on what is available at that time, based in where we were as a club. We felt that Slav, in the coaching role, was the best decision.”

Stressing United’s leadership always viewed Jokanovic as a “coach”, Giansiracusa explained Heckingbottom’s brief - which will see him take a broader view of Bramall Lane’s sporting operations and its place within the United World network of clubs - means he will be referred to as “football manager”.

Sheffield, UK, 25th Nov, 2021. Paul Heckingbottom unveiled as the new manager of Sheffield United at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: 25th November 2021. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Heckingbottom promoted several members of United development squad through to first team level during a spell in caretaker charge last term; with Jokanovic continuing the process of developing home-grown talent after being hired following last term’s relegation from the Premier League. Iliman Ndiaye has been a regular feature in the starting eleven this season while the likes of Kacper Lopata and Zak Brunt were deployed in the Carabao Cup before being sent out on loan to further their education.

“A measure of our confidence in Paul and the strategic plan is that he has signed a contract through to 2027 with a club option,” Giansiracusa said. “We wouldn’t do that if we didn’t believe in him and the strategy.”

“As chairman,” he added, “It is my job to gather around me the best people I can.”