Goalkeeper, wingers, promises kept - Slavisa Jokanovic's deadline-day wishlist for Sheffield United
The transfer deadline is now only a few hours away and despite the signing of Conor Hourihane last night, there is still work to be done at Bramall Lane if Slavisa Jokanović is to secure the number of signings he says he was promised when he agreed to become the new Sheffield United manager.
Hourihane joined Ben Davies as Jokanović’s only signings as Blades boss so far, and United have also sold their first-choice goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal earlier in the window.
Hourihane is an impressive signing, with a proven pedigree. But for United to turn around their current run of form, you feel that his arrival must be the start of their transfer business late in this window, rather than the sum of it...
What else is needed?
Here’s what Jokanović said in his own words…
"First of all we're trying to find some kind of wingers but it isn't easy for us. We know how the team is balanced. It's been complicated for us trying to find this kind of players and the numbers to cover these positions.
"Of course some of them can help us in different positions but we need a little bit more creativity. It's simple.”
The manager has experimented with a 4-3-3 shape earlier in his reign before returning to the 3-5-2 favoured by his predecessor Chris Wilder, perhaps more out of necessity than design. As Jokanović hinted, this squad as it is was recruited to play in a very specific way and the lack of wingers, for example, is hampering his efforts to try something different.
Midfield is another issue that has been highlighted, and the loan signing of Conor Hourihane is a decent start.
But it was a huge blow for the Blades when their move for Ronaldo Vieira broke down over concerns with his health and fitness, and it left them scrambling for alternative targets with not a great deal of time left in the window.
Bringing in 35-year-old Adlene Guedioura, with all due respect to him and a successful career, does not exactly scream ambition for a club that was only relegated from the cash-rich Premier League a few months ago, while neither Wes Foderingham nor Michael Verrips have exactly nailed down the vacant No.1 shirt and it would be a big concern if either of them were tasked with replacing Ramsdale for the rest of the season if the Blades are serious about getting back into the top flight at the first time of asking.
Keep an eye out for a possible swap deal with Middlesbrough involving Oliver Burke and Sam Morsy, too.
Sounds straightforward, then?
It perhaps could have been, but United have left it very late if they are to bring in all the new faces Jokanović clearly wants and feels he needs. The Serb’s demeanour and answers when speaking to the media about transfers in recent weeks has noticeably changed, and it doesn’t take an expert in body language and psychology to suggest that he is clearly frustrated with the slow progress so far.
There is still time for United to pull a few rabbits out of hats before 11pm, but whether any incomings are of the requisite fitness, standing and quality to make a difference between now and January remains to be seen.