By PA Sport Staff
Sheffield United have parted company with manager Slavisa Jokanovic and replaced him with Paul Heckingbottom.
The Sky Bet Championship club announced the departure of Jokanovic after just six months in the role on Thursday.
The Blades also confirmed Heckingbottom, who had a spell as caretaker manager last season, has agreed a contract until the end of the 2025-26 season.
A statement on the club’s website read: “Following several months of strategic planning and a lacklustre start to the season, the board decided that a change was in the best long-term interests of the club.”
Jokanovic, 53, became the Blades’ first overseas manager in May when installed as Chris Wilder’s permanent replacement. Wilder had left in March with the club bottom of the Premier League.
Jokanovic, who had previously guided English clubs Watford and Fulham to promotion, was hoping to take the relegated club back to the Premier League at the first attempt.
But the Serbian, who had signed a three-year contract, won only six of his 19 league games in charge and United remain 16th in the table, eight points off the play-off places, despite Tuesday’s 1-0 victory at Reading.
That has prompted the club to turn back to former Barnsley, Leeds and Hibernian manager Heckingbottom, who will be in place for Sunday’s Championship visit of Bristol City.
Chairman Yusuf Giansiracusa said: “We look forward to embarking on a new era in Blades football with Paul at the helm. Paul possesses the personal leadership qualities and technical football skills the board feels are essential to successfully implement the board’s strategic directives.
“He shares our values and interest in player development while also possessing the ambition and determination to get the most out of our current squad. We are convinced that Paul will play a leading role in improving all aspects of football operations.”
Heckingbottom will be joined at the club by Stuart McCall, who will be his assistant manager, with former United player Jack Lester becoming head of player development.
— Sky Bet Championship (@SkyBetChamp) November 24, 2021
Chief executive Stephen Bettis said: “Disappointingly, after a slow start, we have not seen an improvement in results, performances and we’d prefer to be in a better league position.
“A decision has been made and now it is important that we look forward, Paul’s style and ethos matches that of the club and we will support him where possible.
“We have enough league games remaining, we know we have the ability and resources within our playing squad to start picking up points and climbing the league table.”