Slaviša Jokanović is not a familiar name in coaching circuit as of now, but the Serbian has earned a lot of attention in recent months following his surprise ascent in Championship football. His previous success story remained largely unnoticed when he earned a Premier League promotion with Watford a couple of years back. However, he left the managerial role after failing to agree to a new deal and the appointment of high-profile Quique Sánchez Flores made him ‘the forgotten one’. But the former Watford boss silently made a return to English football six months later with a struggling Fulham side and managed to avoid relegation by one place in the extremely adverse situation.
Fulham, a top Premier League force a few years back, have struggled in Championship since being relegated in 2014. They went through several managerial alterations and failed to retain most of their key players, but the appointment of Jokanović helped them to reconstruct their squad as the 48-year old former Yugoslavia international brought back a rhythm as well as toughness amongst the Cottagers. They are now sixth in the league table with 3 more games remaining in their impressive campaign and very much in contention to secure a playoff spot in order to keep their promotion hopes alive.
Jokanović had a successful playing career as well. He made 64 appearances for FR Yugoslavia and featured in 1998 FIFA World Cup and Euro 2000. The defensive midfielder had an impressive spell with Spanish outfit Deportivo de La Coruña and played a big part in their first ever league triumph. After only one season with Depor, he joined Premier League outfit Chelsea and spent a couple of seasons there.
After hanging up his boots following a three-month spell with Spanish second division side Ciudad de Murcia, Jokanović concentrated on his coaching career and appointed as the head coach of Serbian outfit Partizan – the club with whom he won Yugoslav First League as a player in his early days. He had an extremely successful phase with them and won back to back doubles (Serbian SuperLiga and Serbian Cup) before bidding farewell.
He then had another title-winning season with Thai outfit Muangthong United F.C. but failed big time with Bulgarian team Levski Sofia and later with Spanish Segunda Division outfit Hercules CF who eventually got relegated at the end of the season. But he revived his career with Watford after successfully guiding them to Premier League promotion and then led the Israeli outfit Maccabi Tel Aviv FC to the group stage of the prestigious Champions League competition for the first time in 11 years ousting Basel.
He then agreed to have a second spell in Championship football and his presence has uplifted Fulham who are dreaming once more to restore their lost pride with a Premier League return. His excellence earned him a long-term contract back in February that tied him down with the Cottagers until 2019.
Recently, Premier League outfit West Ham United have set their eyes on the Serbian who might be targeted if they decide to part ways with Slaven Bilic who is struggling in the ongoing campaign following a seventh-place finish last year in his debut Premier League season.
Jokanović, however, is not baffled by the rumours as he is eyeing for greater glory with the greater London outfit,
“I am absolutely committed, always, I will repeat that I have a year and a half on my contract with Fulham – I am happy with my club and I will push hard to be a Premier League coach with Fulham in the future, either in a few months or a little bit longer.”
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