According to reports, Middlesbrough have shown an interest in hiring Slavisa Jokanovic as Tony Pulis’ successor.
In terms of Championship managers there probably couldn’t be two more polar opposites, so what should Boro fans expect from the Serbian if he is appointed?
Even though Jokanovic has been promoted with both Watford and Fulham, he comes with his fair share of downsides.
If Steve Gibson is expecting immediate results from his new manager, he should look elsewhere. The former Watford manager’s teams are notoriously slow starters as it takes time for his personnel to adjust to his system, and when taking over a squad that was managed by Tony Pulis last season, this process could take even longer.
Jokanovic can also be a stubborn man, he has often been accused of not having a plan B, and if the board don’t bring in the signings he wants he is more than happy to highlight which areas need strengthening in his team selections.
At Fulham, he infamously played Stefan Johansen as a striker to highlight that the Whites needed a new forward. Eventually, this led to the loan signing of Aleksandar Mitrovic, but during the period the Norwegian was playing up top the west Londoners dropped valuable points which could have cost them promotion.
To say that Slavisa is the antithesis of Pulis isn’t wholly a good thing. His ability to organise a defence leaves a lot to be desired as shown by his tenure in the Premier League with his former team.
Firstly, Jokanovic will bring something that Middlesbrough haven’t seen for years, entertaining football. Aitor Karanka, Garry Monk, Gary Rowett and Pulis have all been defensively-minded managers whereas the Serbian loves to attack.
His teams dominate possession and move the ball quickly — a system which has proven effective as he has overseen two promotions from the Championship.
Although he can be stubborn about getting the right people in, once everything is in place, his teams can prove almost unbeatable in this division. Fulham went on a 23-game run without losing in the second half of 2017/18 following the arrivals of Mitrovic and Matt Targett.
He is also seemingly good at handling any tough characters in the dressing room. The aforementioned Mitrovic has had a plethora of occurrences of ill-discipline on the pitch, but Jokanovic completely transformed him so that he could control that side of his game.
Aboubakar Kamara has shown this season that he is a livewire who can cause problems, but under the tutelage of the former Chelsea player, these issues never cropped up.
This skill could come in handy with Martin Braithwaite and Britt Assombalonga in the Boro squad, as they are two players with immense talent who seem to allow their attitude to affect their game.
All in all, he is one of the best managers in the division, but he probably couldn’t pick a harder side to take over. Half a decade of defensive football is ingrained into several players in this squad.
If the board at The Riverside Stadium are serious about the 50-year-old being the man to take them up, they will have to give him their full backing and plenty of patience.