Slavisa Jokanovic sacked: Paul Heckingbottom will take over as Sheffield United manager

Sheffield United will officially announce they have parted company with Slavisa Jokanovic later today, with Paul Heckingbottom beating former Preston North End chief Alex Neil to role.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 1:49 pm

Although there has been no confirmation from Bramall Lane, a media conference is scheduled to be called later today when the Serb’s exit will be announced.

Sources within the game have told The Star that Neil, who has been out of work since leaving Preston North End in March, boasts admirers among the United hierarchy. Earlier this morning, one of those insisted they had been informed owner HRH Prince Adullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his board of directors began sounding out possible replacements for Jokanovic before Tuesday night’s win over Reading.

Despite making a slow start to life at United, something his allies attributed to the club’s refusal to overhaul the squad which was relegated from the Premier League last season, Jokanovic remained convinced he could win a third career promotion in South Yorkshire.

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Paul Heckingbottom served as caretaker manager before Slavisa Jokanovic's appointment: Darren Staples / Sportimage

The 53-year-old, whose team were preparing for Sunday’s game against Bristol City 16th in the table, won six of his 19 league matches at the helm and had identified several potential targets for the January transfer window.

Jokanovic, whose pay-off his being negotiated by United’s hierarchy this morning, steered both Watford and Fulham out of the second tier before taking charge of Al-Gharafa - the club he left in order to accept the challenge of replacing Chris Wilder.

Paul Heckingbottom, who operated as caretaker when Wilder’s relationship with Prince Abdullah deteriorated earlier this year, will be handed the chance to stake a claim for the role on a permanent basis. But Neil, who took Norwich City up before joining North End, is thought to boast admirers among the Saudi Arabian’s inner circle.

He had been linked with the vacancy at Rangers followng Steven Gerrard’s decision to take over at Aston Villa but was eventually overlooked for the position.

Slavisa Jokanovic is expected to leave as manager of Sheffield United. David Klein / Sportimage

News of the decision to part company with Jokanovic stunned United’s players when it was relayed to them before training at the Randox Health Academy complex this morning.

Slavisa Jokanovic during his final match at in charge of Sheffield United: David Klein / Sportimage