Former Sheffield United interim manager Paul Heckingbottom is set to stay with the Blades according to the Sheffield Star, after speculation over whether he would quit the club following Slavisa Jokanovic’s appointment.
The 43-year-old took caretaker charge at Bramall Lane in March after Chris Wilder’s departure – but couldn’t pull off a miracle as the Blades were relegated back to the Championship.
Despite this demotion, Heckingbottom managed to win three of his last six games as a Premier League managing, beating Everton at Goodison Park and taking all three points against Brighton and Burnley at Bramall Lane.
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The club kept a clean sheet in all three and as per the same report, the board were impressed with the caretaker boss and shortlisted him as a potential option to permanently succeed Wilder.
However, he was pipped to the post by promotion-winning manager Slavisa Jokanovic, who is set to arrive in South Yorkshire on the expiry of his deal with Qatari side Al-Gharafa.
This created speculation over his future, but the Star have reported he was back at their training complex this week in time for the start of pre-season training.
He looks set to return to the club’s Under-23s group with Jokanovic’s new backroom team taking charge of the first team’s sessions until the Serbian arrives.
Although the appointment of Slavisa Jokanovic is a shrewd one, the Sheffield United board will also want to keep an eye on Heckingbottom, who has managed Barnsley, Leeds United and Scottish side Hibernian in the past.
He has done a good job with the Blades’ Under-23s team but unless they are happy to let go of him, they may want to promote the 43-year-old before he is poached by another club.
After getting another taste of managerial responsibility in the latter stages of last season, he may want a shot at another first-team position, something the South Yorkshire side can’t provide currently with their recent appointment.
But his previous experience at United, after getting to know the current players well in the last few months, could make him a suitable candidate to join Jokanovic as an assistant manager and provide extra expertise.
It will be fascinating to see whether the Serbian goes down this avenue – and it’s definitely one to keep an eye on.