Slavisa Jokanovic’s reign as Sheffield United manager is over after less than six months. He will be replaced by Paul Heckingbottom, who has signed a contract until 2026.
Jokanovic, who signed a three-year deal in the summer, was informed of the club’s decision to part ways this morning.
Heckingbottom, United’s Under-23s head coach, will succeed Jokanovic as permanent manager — a move The Athletic revealed on Monday was in the board’s thoughts.
His first game will be at home to Bristol City on Sunday lunchtime. He has brought in several new coaches including former United players Jack Lester, who becomes head of player development, and Stuart McCall, who is the new assistant manager.
It is understood the United hierarchy, who remain hopeful promotion is a realistic target this season, started to lose faith last month. The 3-1 defeat to Blackburn Rovers on November 6 then really got the alarm bells ringing, not least because it left the club languishing in mid-table.
Ironically, the axe has fallen on the back of Jokanovic’s side keeping two clean sheets in as many games and collecting four points. This included Tuesday’s victory at Reading.
A club statement said: “Sheffield United and Slaviša Jokanovic have parted company, with Paul Heckingbottom installed as the club’s football manager.
“Yorkshireman Heckingbottom takes charge of the club’s football business immediately after agreeing a contract through to the end of the 2025/26 season. He will begin by leading training at the Randox Health Academy on Friday and be in position for Sunday’s Sky Bet Championship fixture with Bristol City.
“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.”
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.”
Stephen Bettis, United’s chief executive officer, 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. 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.”