When Fulham announced the acquisition of manager Slavisa Jokanovic on December 27th, the Cottagers community rejoiced. The appointment was greeted with widespread relief and jubilation, as it came after almost two months without a permanent coach. Jokanovic brought with him experience in the Championship, and had steered Watford to promotion last year. However, what stood out the most about the Serb was how progressive and forward thinking he was compared to Fulham’s previous managers.
The aspect that immediately sets Slavisa Jokanovic apart is his Twitter account. Jokanovic is one of only two managers in the Championship with a Twitter presence, along with QPR manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. In general, instances of football managers with Twitter accounts are few and far between. Yet Jokanovic’s account offers a refreshing and unique look into the life and inner workings of Fulham FC.
The official Twitter account of the Fulham manager, @Jokanovic, has 12.4 thousand followers and he has tweeted 243 times. The Serb mainly posts before and after matches, offering his thoughts on Fulham’s progress on the training ground. Most of his tweets come with inspirational messages about teamwork and togetherness and show Jokanovic’s dedication to the Fulham cause.
So many of Fulham’s previous managers have been unapproachable and traditional, rarely connecting with the fans and appearing as out of touch. Prime among these was Felix Magath, whose ill-fated authoritarian rule left Fulham relegated and in freefall, yet Slavisa Jokanovic breaks this mould.
The Serb is a true man of the people, and sets the example for what football management will be like in the future. The advent of social media in football has been huge, and its impact cannot be overstated. The power of Twitter connects supporters from all around the world and provides them with an unique view of the footballing world.
Jokanovic allows followers to look behind the scenes into the everyday workings at Fulham. Unlike almost every other manager, he can communicate directly with the masses, rather than through the mundane medium of official club statements. Managers with Twitter accounts can cut out the middle man of the club website, which is often overtly processed and corporate. In this way, the manager presents himself as one of the fans, a figure just like you. This common man appeal excites supporters who yearn to have a manager that they can connect to.
Yet there are two types of managers with social media. One, like Jokanovic, uses his social media to provide insights and tweet out meaningful and interesting points. The other, like Harry Redknapp, uses his account to tweet out corporate blabber and links to websites that pays him.
In the case of Slavisa Jokanovic, the refreshing openness of his Twitter account also translates to his work on the pitch. After Saturday’s crucial win over Charlton, the Fulham manager admitted in his post match remarks that he had made a mistake. At halftime he corrected this error, replacing Alex Kacaniklic with Chris Baird (sound familiar?). It was reinvigorating to see a manager being proactive and admitting that he had made a mistake, and then going about solving it. How many managers would have stubbornly insisted their starting eleven was the best, and let the issue fester unresolved?
As social media continues to permeate every aspect of our life, it will enter the world of football as well. In the next five years, it is almost inevitable that all managers will have social media accounts, forced by the irresistible wave of public opinion and sponsorship deals. Yet the quality of their accounts will depend on how each manager utilizes them. If all acted like Slavisa Jokanovic, then they would quickly endear themselves to fans and offer a special look into their lives. Nevertheless, managers must be careful to avoid the trap of just using their accounts to promote lucrative sponsorship deals, losing sight of the true advantage of Twitter.
In this respect, Slavisa Jokanovic is ahead of the curve. With his forward thinking attitude on and off the pitch, the Serb can help lead Fulham to a new era of success. He has quickly become a fan favourite, and can thank his social media presence for that. Let’s hope Jokanovic can bring Fulham back to the hallowed ground of the Premier League with his modern approach.
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