Sheffield United boss Slavisa Jokanovic reveals what he has told Lys Mousset, as the striker attempts to leave his past behind
There has never been any doubt about his ability.
Even Lys Mousset’s most acerbic of detractors admit professionalism, or lack of it, is the only thing stopping him from realising his potential.
But the centre-forward’s performances during pre-season, which have spawned three goals in two outings for Sheffield United, suggest a change of attitude and approach.
Some believe Slavisa Jokanovic’s presence has been the catalyst. But the Serb, who took charge of the club earlier this month, instead credits the player with making the lifestyle adjustments which maybe, just maybe, will prevent his talent going to waste.
“I know I can’t make all the players happy,” admitted Jokanovic, suggesting that, psychologically speaking, Mousset is in a good place. “But I think my players are satisfied and one of those is Lys.
“He is trying, he is working hard and then he has the bonus of the goals and playing good games.”
“I knew about Lys before I came here,” he added. “I know he is a player who can give opposition teams a lot of problems and bring a lot of things to us. This is all just part of the process, about us trying to get ready.”
After opening his account for the summer with a clinical finish against Europa Point earlier this month, Mousset continued his rich vein of form in front of goal by betting twice during Wednesday evening’s 4-0 win over Doncaster Rovers. Visibly sharper, the Frenchman still cuts a bulky figure on the football pitch. But unlike last term, when he was clearly overweight, Mousset’s heft can be attributed to muscle. As Rovers’ defence discovered when he claimed his second of the contest just before half-time, those sessions in the weights room have not lessened his pace.
Having acknowledged he researched Mousset’s track record in South Yorkshire before officially taking charge earlier this month, Jokanovic will beloath to read too much into the striker’s resurgence. Indeed, since scoring five times in 10 outings at the beginning of the 2019/20 Premier League season, Mousset has experienced more false dawns than a Vicar of Dibley themed fancy dress bash.
Jokanovic’s predecessor Chris Wilder quickly tired of the former AFC Bournemouth marksman’s antics before leaving his position in March, privately suspecting that a chaotic personal life was responsible for his poor injury record.
Rather than hammering him with an iron fist, Jokanovic has instead chosen to handle Mousset with velvet gloves. But, like Wilder, he knows the acid test will be whether Mousset continues to apply himself or reverts to type. The 25-year-old made only 13 appearances as United were relegated from the top-flight last term, having seen his pre-season ruined by a toe problem.
“I try with him the same as others; I encourage him and so do my staff,” Jokanovic said. “He can put a disappointing year behind him. He must be positive and show a desire to change the story.
“In football, it is not a question about me. It is them. It is impossible to play all the years and be at the highest level. I detect he is focused, he is concentrated and he is enjoying the work. He can take a step forward and change the story.”