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Sheffield United replace manager Slavisa Jokanovic with Paul Heckingbottom

Sheffield United v Coventry City – Sky Bet Championship – Bramall Lane
(Image credit: Zac Goodwin)

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.

Paul Heckingbottom is to take over as Sheffield United manager

Paul Heckingbottom is to take over as Sheffield United manager (Jan Kruger/PA)

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.

Jokanovic, left, has won only six of his 19 Sky Bet Championship matches in charge of the Blades

Jokanovic, left, won only six of his 19 Sky Bet Championship matches in charge of the Blades (Barrington Coombs/PA)

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.

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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.”