Sheffield United are close to making a managerial announcement with the clear favourite named according to the bookies as fans watch on.
After confirming earlier this week that negotiations between the two parties had reached an advanced stage, The Star understands more discussions between the hierarchy at Bramall Lane and the individual concerned took place throughout Wednesday after a series of key agreements were reached in principle.
Slavisa Jokanovic, who has previously managed Watford and Fulham, was approached about the possibility of taking charge at the beginning of the month with the Serbian set to leave Qatari club Al-Gharafa when his contract expires this summer.
The Blades previously looked at Alexander Blessin of KV Oostende, however it became clear that he wouldn’t qualify for a work permit, so then identified Philippe Clement of Club Brugge as a possible alternative should Jokanovic prove unobtainable.
West Bromwich Albion have also been linked with the Serb, who worked with their sporting director at Vicarage Road. But directors there are thought to view Wilder, whose reign in South Yorkshire ended in March, as a more realistic option.
Speaking after their stay in the Premier League officially came to an end on Sunday – United’s waving goodbye to the top-flight with a 1-0 win over Burnley – caretaker Paul Heckingbottom admitted a quick appointment would be “beneficial” for “everyone concerned” after appearing to suggest he is preparing to resume his role with the under-23’s. Several members of the squad he worked with before stepping into the breach on an interim basis made their senior debuts during the second half of the campaign, including midfielder Iliman Ndiaye and striker Daniel Jebbison.
At one stage, soon after United were forced to cool their interest in Blessin, Heckingbottom was also viewed as a serious contender to succeed Wilder having previously managed Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian before returning to South Yorkshire.
Jokanovic, who represented Yugoslavia, Partizan Belgrade and Chelsea as a player, won promotion from the Championship in both Hertfordshire before heading to the Middle East in 2019, where he was nominated as coach of the year last term.
Meanwhile, Paul Heckingbottom wants a quick decision on Sheffield United;s future to help build for promotion push.
He is likely to revert to his previous role with the under-23s squad after stepping in following the departure of Chris Wilder in March.
Heckingbottom said: “Personally – and I am not speaking for anyone other than myself – I would like a quick appointment straight after the last game because I think you can then start laying the groundwork and the manager can start convincing players to stay for some with their heads turned – and making decisions on players in terms of ins and outs.
“That is really important for that stability. It is the start of a new era.
“The fact that I have been in this position for quite a long time now since Chris left might have done everyone a favour in terms of everyone (being) ready now and chomping at the bit and being ready for this next era and what is it going to look like.
“If it is half as successful as Chris’s was, then the club are going to do fantastically well again. We need that call now and decision.
“In terms of the club and squad, keep it together. We have been competing in the last two games with eight or nine first-team players missing and using some of the younger players from the academy, which is the lifeblood of the club if you get that right.
“A new era and new appointment sooner rather than later to take all the positives and good things that we are planning for next season.”
Yugoslav First League: 1988–89
First League of FR Yugoslavia: 1992–93
Yugoslav Cup: 1991–92
La Liga: 1999–2000
Supercopa de España: 2000
Serbian SuperLiga: 2007–08, 2008–09
Serbian Cup: 2007–08, 2008–09
Thai Premier League: 2012
Football League Championship runner-up: 2014–15
EFL Championship play-offs: 2018
Fans reacted with Sheffield United close to a managerial announcement, see what they had to say…
Seeing the rumours of Slavisa Jokanovic to Sheffield United… 😓 pic.twitter.com/j37EkS0JNH
— COYWhites (@COYWhites_com) May 27, 2021
@ChazzleFizzle: Cmon ya big Serb
@kane_tingle10: The board had 1 chance, if they got this wrong the fans would’ve turned. Slavisa Jokanovic is some appointment. I’m excited. Well done SUFC
@journo_joshz: Would be a good appointment in my opinion! Promoted from the championship with both Watford and Fulham. Has the pedigree to take #sufc straight back up!
@LeaBoulby: Alot of Blades got to take there hat off and hold there hands up for this one, everyone said cheap option hes probably got the most expensive option and the best man for the Job! Class @Saudi49er actions speak louder than words well done lad!
@thesufcproject: Sexy football on its way. #twitterblades #sufc
@AdamLindley85: Not only is Jokanovic a great appointment, It shows our ambition long term, He wouldn’t join otherwise with good reassurances. #twitterblades
@brayford_chris: Slavisa Jokanovic set to be the new Sheffield United manager. Very interesting appointment and he has two promotions from the Championship on his CV. Massive job on his hands but Blade’s fans should be excited about this one.
@ChrisHu45292304: If what I’m reading is true. Us Blades need to belt up, have some patience, and let Slav do his thing. The only appointment the Prince could deliver after Wilder is imminent. This is a huge “Coup” for the Club and its fans.⚔⚽👊🏼 #twitterblades
@UptonBlade: If/when big Slav’s appointed would love to see those that have spent the last few months slating the hell out of the board, taking too long, cheap option blah blah blah, apologise but can’t see it somehow
@cal_gregory: Announce Jokanovic today @SheffieldUnited it’s my birthday xx
@jbollington13: It’s happening! Jokanovic barmy army 🤣
@NorthernHarry: Just seen Wilder driving Jokanovic round Sheff showing him all best boozers
@related_city: Good choice for them he did a good job with Fulham I could see them potentially going back up or at least in the playoffs!
@SufcDaniel: Heckingbottom looks a bit different.
@rakb1889: Things you love to see!
@Jordsufc_: Slavisa Jokanovic then! 😍
@SheffUtdNFL: Delighted! Though I was delighted at Adkins…
@CJbenton5: I was confused when Chris Wilder left, I was upset. But if we’re going to replace him with Slaviša Jokanović, it heals that emotion a little bit. Shows intent from the board so we have to wait to see. I hope this is true.
@Benhoyland93: Big Jok 👍👍👏
@jonathonchapma2: Happier with Jokanovic in charge or would people still want Wilder back? Big congratulations to Wilder and his mates for making sure he secured his financial future for life with the contract he got before we turned into prime Chesterfield
@daneshaw8: As said yesterday, Reyt appointment that. The best available manager at the time. Just hope fans get behind him.
@FreddyTheFud: Proven Championship operator, couldn’t have possibly made a better appointment in our current position/standing so praise to the board for getting this one done cos he’ll be without doubt the highest earner in the Champ.
@JamieONeill88: Good appointment
@BHavenhand: When it happens, but many different news reporters are issuing this news so I would think it would be serious, hope so I loved his last football in our country
@nickhopcroft92: This hurts.
@CallumHobson__: Chris Wilder -> Slavisa Jokanovic. Arguably one of the best managerial replacements out there 👏👏 Fair play @Saudi49er but just make sure he’s backed 👍
@Fonzyy97: You absolutely, love to see it!
@ChrisCowie85: Big Slav’s red and white army. That’ll do.
@r_speed92: But I thought Prince was skint and not ambitious and everything good that’s ever happened to us was because of Wilder ? This is the best appointment we could make by a considerable distance
@Bailey_SUFC: Did not expect us to get Jokanovic at all, some fucking appointment that!!
@joewhite12321: @Jokanovic welcome
@Smarmalat: Be interesting to see how they switch from Wilders playing style. Good manager though.
@teddybeerlover: fuck sake oh well 🤦♂️ #ffc
— Reagan (@reagansufc) May 27, 2021
But the Prince has no money?. pic.twitter.com/ArJkv9l1US
— Jacktheblade (@JEDilson_10) May 27, 2021