Sheffield United have sacked coach Slavisa Jokanovic and appointed Paul Hickingbottom as his replacement on a four-and-a-half-year deal.
Hickingbottom, 44, ended last season on a provisional charge as he was relegated from the Premier League before Jokanovic took over in May.
The 53-year-old Serbian has won just six of 19 league matches.
Sheffield United, who host Bristol City on Sunday, are eight points clear of the tournament play-offs.
Stephen Pettis, CEO of Blades He said in a statement.
“A decision has been made and now it is important to look forward, Paul’s style and spirit match that of the club and we will support him wherever possible.”
Hickingbottom said his first job was to restore the confidence of players, many of whom were involved in the Premier League relegation last season.
He described their struggle for consistency under Jokanovic as a “hangover” from last season’s drop, but he remains optimistic about the chances of helping the Blades return to the top flight.
“I honestly think this can be done this season,” he told BBC Radio Sheffield. “I have the added bonus of working with them that they know me and I know them.
“If I think these players are nowhere near as good, why am I sitting here? I know we can do it, and that’s my direct goal this season.”
January could be a good time for the club, when the transfer window opens and Heckingbottom can start putting together his squad.
And while he hinted that the departures might be outweighed by the additions, he also dismissed the notion that there is no ambition to succeed this season.
“I’m not going to write this season, and say, 100% not,” Hickingbottom added.
“Sometimes the problem is that there are players who lack enthusiasm, players who lack enthusiasm will not lead us to where we need to be.
“I’ve been in this position before, I’ve said these things before, sometimes getting the players out is more important than being in it.
“I’m not saying it’s going to happen for sure, but I’m saying there will likely be casualties. We know that. But that could be just as important as getting the players involved.”
New dates, familiar faces
Hickingbottom will be assisted by former Sheffield United player and coach Stuart McCall, who is leaving Blackpool. Former Blades striker Jack Lester has been appointed Head of Player Development.
Jokanovic arrived at Bramall Lane from Qatar’s Al Gharafa club looking to win the Premier League with a third team, having done so with both Watford and Fulham.
However, the slow start that saw them fail to win any of their first four matches never ended, and despite their victory in Reading on Tuesday, they are as close to the relegation zone as they are in the top six.
Heckingbottom won promotion to the championship with Barnsley before his short spell at Leeds United ended in June 2018.
He spent about nine months at Scottish Premier League club Hibernian but was sacked in November 2019 and took over as Leeds U-23 coach in July 2020.
After Chris Wilder, who moved the club from League One to the Premier League, left the club in March he was appointed as interim club manager until the end of the season before returning to his previous role upon the arrival of Jokanovic.
Chairman Yusuf Giansirakoza said: “We look forward to starting a new era in Leeds football with Paul at the helm.
“Paul possesses the personal leadership qualities and technical football skills that the Board deems necessary to successfully implement the Board’s strategic directives.”