Sheffield United's former boss Neil Warnock backs Slavisa Jokanovic to be a big hit at Bramall Lane
Slavisa Jokanovic has been told he joined a “wonderful” football club after agreeing to become Sheffield United’s new manager, as the Serb prepares to take charge of his first competitive match since taking charge.
Neil Warnock, one of Jokanovic’s most successful predecessors, also insisted the former Watford, Fulham and Partizan Belgrade chief will “love” working in the city before wishing him well ahead of the new season.
But Warnock, now in charge of Championship rivals Middlrsbrough, admitted the respect he has for Jokanovic does not mean next month’s meeting between the two sides is set to be a convivial affair rather than fiercely competitive encounter.
Speaking at The Star’s annual Football Awards ceremony earlier this week, where he was recognised for his achievements inside the technical area, Warnock said: “Slav has gone to a wonderful club. He’ll love it there and he’ll love his time in the city too, I’m sure of it.
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“He’s someone I’ve got a lot of time for and enjoyed coming up against in the past. Obviously we’re going to be doing that again pretty soon as well.
“I genuinely wish him and Sheffield United all the best and I’m sure he’ll do really well because, like I say, he’s damn good at his job.
“It goes without saying that I hope he doesn’t enjoy either of his games against us (next term). I don’t want him to have a good time or enjoy any success in them. But after those, and before and in between them as well, I hope it goes really well for him.
“He’ll enjoy being at United and he’ll enjoy being in the city too, because it’s a great city and a footballing city.”
Warnock, who led United into the Premier League 15 years ago, was unveiled as the latest recipient of the Derek Dooley Lifetime Achievement award at the event on Monday night. Jokanovic and United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who was also honoured, were among the audience.
Now aged 72, Warnock has won eight promotions since becoming a manager. The last of those came in 2018, when he steered Cardiff City intp the top-flight.
United, who moved for Jokanovic earlier this summer after surrendering their PL status, are scheduled to visit Teesside on September 28 before the return fixture at Bramall Lane on New Year’s Day. Jokanovic’s reign begins with a home game against Birmingham City on Saturday night.
Warmock paid tribute to Dooley, a legendary figure at both United and Sheffield Wednesday, after being presented with his trophy. Len Badger, who passed away in May, was also referenced during his acceptance speech.
“Derek, what a wonderful man,” Warnock said. “He was more than just a chairman for me. I know he’ll be looking down now.”
“Growing-up as a United fan, I remember watching so many of the greats as a young lad and what an honour that was,” Warnock added. “United is a great club, like I say, and it’s produced so many great people. Len was one of them and, like Derek, he’ll be missed by so many people which tells you something about him.”