'Focus on scoring rather than defending', 'Fans loved him' - The inside track on new Sheffield United boss Slavisa Jokanovic from a Watford perspective
Promotion expert Slavisa Jokanović officially checks in at Sheffield United today, with much excitement amongst Blades fans at what the Serb has to offer in South Yorkshire.
Jokanović was revered at Fulham after leading them into the Premier League via the play-offs, with a squad including a certain Oliver Norwood, and is similarly well-remembered amongst supporters of Watford after helping them win automatic promotion from the Championship in 2015 with 15 wins in their final 20 games.
Jokanović never managed the Hornets in the top-flight, though, after talks over a new deal broke down in the summer after promotion. He is now aiming for a third promotion from the second tier with a third different club, after accepting the Blades’ invitation to replace iconic former manager Chris Wilder at Bramall Lane.
But what can Unitedites expect from Jokanović when he begins his work at Bramall Lane? We asked Mark Parkin, from the award-winning Watford podcast From the Rookery End, for the lowdown on Jokanović from a Hornets perspective…
“He was great at Watford. Played decent enough football, with plenty of high scoring affairs - it was a 5-0 away win at Fulham that really got the promotion challenge properly underway.
“There were patches of bad form early in his tenure, there were five defeats in a row at one stage, but the players always seemed to buy into him, even during that sticky patch and he engendered what on the face of it was a terrific team spirit.
“One thing that really stuck in the memory for me was his willingness to make bold decisions. He made a very early tactical substitution in the penultimate game at Brighton for example, which completely transformed the flow of the game and ultimately secured a promotion winning victory.
“He was tactically astute, willing to change and react midgame, playing an attractive brand of football with a focus on scoring instead of defending - that last phrase might be a bit reductive and simplistic, but that's how I remember things!
“Simply put, the fans loved him. The football was almost always entertaining and he got us promoted - we should have won the title and probably would have deserved it for our form during an incredibly tight run in - check out how close it was at the top for the last six or weeks of the season!
“He got Watford performing at the peak of their powers, got the best out of the best players and ensured that the team turned up when it really counted. For all the swashbuckling play, they did have to grind out a few results during the run in; he made sure they did it.
“I think his services probably weren't retained as the club were worried about conceding too many goals having got promoted; the hiring of the pragmatic Quique Sanchez Flores would seem to back that up.
“In short, he was responsible for one of the most enjoyable seasons watching Watford I can remember and all Hornets' fans will undoubtedly wish him well.”