Sheffield United: Jayden Bogle reveals the big difference Slavisa Jokanovic has already made at Bramall Lane ahead of EFL Cup clash against Carlisle

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A new season, new manager and, for Sheffield United’s Jayden Bogle, a striking new look.

“I just decided to get it done, go for something a bit different,” he says, confessing his freshly dyed blond locks have led to some ribbing from his team mates. “I like it. I’m really happy with it. My family and friends though? Well, some of them aren’t so sure.”

It isn’t just what is on top of Bogle’s head that has been a talking point at Bramall Lane. As Slavisa Jokanovic and his coaching staff continue analysing the options at their disposal, what is on the inside has been a subject of conversation too.

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The Serb, who oversees his second game in charge of United when Carlise visit Bramall Lane tomorrow night, is obsessed by tactics, strategies and the science of sport. Which, Bogle acknowledges, meant this summer’s pre-season programme wasn’t only physically gruelling. It was mentally challenging as well.

Sheffield United's Jayden BogleSheffield United's Jayden Bogle
Sheffield United's Jayden Bogle

“There’s been a lot of work on positioning, when you’re in possession and also when you’re not,” Bogle explains. “So there’s been a lot to take on board and it’s really made me think about how the game is played - what I need to be doing, where I need to be when certain situations are developing and the best way of reacting when they actually happen.

“It’s really different to what I’ve been used to in the past. But that’s good because, genuinely, I think I’ve already become a better player as a result. I feel I’ve improved and all of the lads will tell you the same thing I’m sure. They’ve taken on board his ideas and everyone is really enjoying them.”

After being narrowly beaten by Birmingham City on the opening weekend of the Championship campaign, tonight’s EFL Cup tie against their namesakes from Carlisle provides United with another opportunity to learn the methods Jokanovic and his assistant Chema Sanz want to implement at the football club.

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Despite ruling-out major changes to the personnel they inherited from Chris Wilder, who parted company with United a month before their relegation from the Premier League was confirmed in April, the pair are pursuing a radically different approach on the pitch. At their best under Wilder, until last term’s catastrophic campaign, United were a highly choreographed and well-organised outfit. Jokanovic wants to preserve that reputation. Albeit by pursuing a more nuanced and proactive approach to the one circumstances dictated his predecessor was eventually forced to employ against some of the best attacks in the world, let alone Europe.

Slavisa Jokanovic following Sheffield United's game against Birmingham City: Simon Bellis / SportimageSlavisa Jokanovic following Sheffield United's game against Birmingham City: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Slavisa Jokanovic following Sheffield United's game against Birmingham City: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“It’s not a compare and contrast thing,” insists Bogle, who was signed by Wilder from Derby County 12 months ago. “But things have changed a lot. We’ve still got the same aim - and obviously that’s to win games - but we’re not going about it in the same way.”

“After what happened last time out, and with the person who brought me here going, I think the new manager is exactly what we needed,” he continues. “How the last season ended, that was a massive disappointment.

“The new gaffer has got presence, a really good pedigree as everyone knows, and he’s a big personality. I think that’s what was required. And because he’s got a different way of doing things, that’s helped freshen the place up and give everyone a lift without even really realising it.”

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Bogle, aged 21, describes his first season with United as a “bitter sweet experience” full of personal highs, when their results went south, painful collective lows.

Jayden Bogle at the Steelphalt Academy, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/SportimageJayden Bogle at the Steelphalt Academy, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Jayden Bogle at the Steelphalt Academy, Sheffield: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

“It was weird because I’ve got so many great memories of coming up against some of the best players out there and scoring on my debut in the division,” he says, reflecting on his strike against Brighton and Hove Albion in December. “I’ll never forget that or any of them. But then, and this was the most important thing, we didn’t stay up and that was hard to take.”

Bogle’s challenge now is to build on that progress and convince Jokanovic he should command a regular place in United’s starting eleven. His journey through the game - and transformation from Lionel Messi worshipping forward into an attack-minded wing-back - should give him a head start over others who have taken a more conventional route. Particularly with Jokanovic, according to Bogle, signalling he is prepared to “take risks” in the pursuit of excellence.

“I started out as a winger,” he explains, tracing his route to Pride Park and then South Yorkshire. “When I was growing up in Reading, where I started out in the youth set-up before going to Swindon, I used to love Messi. Who didn’t? How could you not? He was the best and still is.

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“I was a winger back then, so I was always trying to create and score goals. It was when I went to Swindon when things changed, and one of the coaches there told me to go to wing-back.

“I had to adapt and think about things differently, but that was good. Even though, looking back, it was really difficult to begin with.”

Bogle’s Eureka Moment came at County, after being installed as a first team player by their former manager Frank Lampard.

“When I started training with the senior lads regularly, that’s when I realised you’ve got to love defending as well as going forward - and U do,” he says. “You can’t play at it. You’ve got to throw yourself right into it. One of the best bits of advice Frank ever gave me was to always work hard.

“Coming from someone like him, with everything he achieved, that really showed me how you’ve got to apply yourself or you’ll achieve nothing.”