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Sheffield United have sacked Slavisa Jokanovic after six months as manager and promoted Paul Heckingbottom, their under-23s head coach, to the role. Heckingbottom, the former Barnsley and Leeds manager, has signed a contract until June 2026.
Jokanovic’s appointment on a three-year deal was regarded as a coup but the team have struggled and are 16th in the Championship. The Blades hierarchy are understood to have explored other candidates, including their former manager Neil Warnock and the former Norwich manager Alex Neil, but have placed their faith in Heckingbottom, who impressed senior figures during a spell in caretaker charge after the departure of Chris Wilder.
Heckingbottom won three top-flight games after Wilder’s exit in March before reverting to his previous post. The former Blades players Jack Lester and Stuart McCall will form part of Heckingbottom’s staff, the latter taking the role of assistant manager after leaving the same position at Blackpool.
Jokanovic won promotion to the Premier League with Fulham and Watford. Despite the team winning at Reading on Tuesday the United owners have decided to act on a poor run of one victory in five games, feeling it was un the club’s best interests.
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The relationship between Jokanovic and the United hierarchy frayed in recent weeks, with Wilder’s successor voicing unhappiness regarding the playing budget. His remit this season was promotion. Heckingbottom’s first game in permanent charge will be at home to Bristol City on Sunday.
The United chief executive, Stephen Bettis, said Heckingbottom’s “style and ethos matches that of the club”. He added: “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. 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.”