After an ‘exhaustive evaluation’ in the words of Blades owner Prince Abdullah to decide upon the preferred candidate to replace Chris Wilder, the newly-relegated club have opted for someone with a clear track record of leading sides to promotion from the Championship in Jokanovic.
The Serbian, 52, led Watford to automatic promotion to the Premier League in his first season in England in 2014-15 and followed up with success through the second-tier play-offs with Fulham in 2017-18 – having reached the end-of-season lottery in the previous campaign.
The presence of a renowned and successful continental coach in Jokanovic, who will see out his commitments with Qatari League outfit Al-Gharafa – which end next month – before officially starting work in Yorkshire will also broaden the club’s world-wide profile.
The Blades are building a group of feeder clubs under their United World portfoilo and recently added French Ligue 2 club Chateauroux to their growing stable of clubs which also include Belgian outfit Beerschot, Dubai-based Al Hilal United and third-tier Indian side Kerala United.
Bettis said: “In Slavisa, we have appointed a manager who would have been on the radar of many clubs across the world. And we believe his decision to come to Bramall Lane shows the continued global reach of the football club.”
Jokanovic’s clear pedigree as a winner remains at the heart of the decision to opt for him as the successor to Wilder, who is expected to return to football with West Brom, recently relegated from the Premier League along with the Blades.
The former Chelsea, Deportivo La Coruna and Partizan Belgrade midfielder is a name which has been on the radar of the club for some time, but obstacles to him heading to Bramall Lane initially emerged when the club began their search for Wilder’s full-time replacement in March.
KV Ostende’s Alexander Blessin was an early favourite and other candidates included interim head coach Paul Heckingbottom before United rekindled their interest in Jokanovic and were given the encouragement they craved.
Jokanovic, who has signed a three-year deal and previously worked with midfielder Oliver Norwood at Fulham, said: “I am honoured to become the manager of this historic football club and I am grateful to Prince Abdullah bin Mosa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, (acting chairman) Yusuf Giansiracusa and Stephen Bettis for trusting in me to start this new chapter for the Blades.
“We all share the same long-term vision, passion and ambition for Sheffield United.
“I am excited to work in English football again and I am looking forward to getting started with the players and staff, as well as meeting our passionate, loyal supporters as we prepare for the challenge in the Championship.”
On the decision to appoint Jokanovic, Prince Abdullah commented: “Over the past two months, the club has undertaken a rigorous recruitment process in our search for the right person to take Sheffield United forward.
“We have been keenly conscious of the importance of this decision and therefore have considered many strong candidates and have undertaken thorough due diligence. After an exhaustive evaluation, it was evident that Slaviša was the man we needed at the helm.
“It goes without saying, we are thrilled to have someone in charge with a CV which boasts a proven track record of success in England and abroad.
“We believe this appointment further underlines our commitment to ensuring success for Sheffield United.”
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