As The Star revealed at the weekend, officials acting on behalf of United owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud decided to reach out to Jokanovic and his representatives following Saturday’s defeat by Crystal Palace - having initially considered Oostende’s Alexander Blessin and then caretaker Paul Heckingbottom as Chris Wilder’s most likely replacements.
However with Blessin unlikely to qualify for a work permit post-Brexit and Heckingbottom’s bid to restore confidence being hampered by injuries and continued poor results, United resolved to discover if Jokanovic, who has won promotion from the Championship with both Watford and Fulham, would be interested in the prospect of taking charge next term.
Already relegated from the Premier League, United hope to make an appointment either just before or after their final match of the campaign later this month.
Although neither party has commented on the situation, sources within the game last night suggested initial contact between United and Jokanovic’s inner circle has already been made.
Likely to be outline talks designed to ascertain if further more detailed discussions would be worth arranging, members of Prince Abdullah’s inner circle are expected to privately relay their thoughts on the matter before Sunday’s visit to Everton - where United will hope to avoid their 29th defeat in top-flight competition since September.
Jokanovic, who also represented Deportivo La Corun, Partizan Belgrade and Yugoslavia as a player before entering the dug-out, is widely expected to return to Europe this summer following a successful spell in Qatar with Al-Gharafa.
He moved to the Middle East in 2019, after bringing PL football to both Vicarage Road and Craven Cottage.
Heckingbottom, previously United’s under-23 coach, is continuing to oversee preparations for the visit to Goodison Park alongside his assistant Jason Tindall.
Widely respected behind the scenes at the club, he has also been involved in helping devise a recovery programme following what has been a punishing season both on and off the pitch, with Wilder’s reign coming to an end following a series of disagreements about recruitment policy.