Sheffield United defender's surprising claim about Slavisa Jokanovic's decision to change system
It was a surprising admission, given that he won promotion from the Championship and helped them challenge for Europe playing as a wing-back in front of a back three.
But George Baldock has confessed that Sheffield United’s switch to a back four under Slavisa Jokanovic can help him rediscover the form which, only a year or so ago, looked set to be rewarded with a call-up by Greece.
“Probably a back four is better for me,” said Baldock, who qualifies for John van’t Schip’s squad by virtue of a Greek grandparent. “I like a five, but a four probably suits me better. That’s where I feel most comfortable and, from a purely personal point of view, it allows me to focus more on my strengths although, as the gaffer is always telling us, everyone has got to improve in all areas.”
“I’m happy to do whatever,” he added. “Really, it doesn’t matter but I do think a four is good for me.”
Signed from MK Dons following United’s 2017 League One title winning campaign, the 28-year-old has spent the majority of his time in South Yorkshire playing the 3-5-2 formation favoured by Jokanovic’s predecessor Chris Wilder. The loss of Jack O’Connell to injury - one of two overlapping centre-halves, the Livepudlian’s absence was cited as a major factor behind the squad’s eventual relegation only 12 months after finishing ninth - prompted Wilder to adopt a more defensive-minded strategy during the closing stages of his reign which, Baldock acknowledged earlier this month, probably helped him finish the campaign as one of the few United players whose reputations were still intact.
After experimenting with a variety of different systems following his appointment in May, the arrival of Morgan Gibbs-White on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers has seen Jokanovic finally settle on a 4-2-3-1.
Hailing his team mate’s impact since leaving Molineux - Gibbs-White’s goal during last weekend’s visit to AFC Bournemouth was his third in six outings - Baldock said: “We’ve had meetings with the gaffer, the pair of us, about creating a little bit more space and width. Everyone can see how talented Morgan is and he makes the game a lot easier.”