Sheffield United Digest: Slavisa Jokanovic reveals secret of promotion; Boss's pledge to young stars; When fans could return to Bramall Lane
Trust will be the key for Sheffield United in their quest for promotion back to the Premier League next season, new boss Slavisa Jokanovic has insisted.
Despite refusing to be drawn on whether United should be counted among the favourites to secure a top two finish, the Serb did admit to being impressed by the quality of the options at his disposal during Friday’s official unveiling at Bramall Lane.
But confidence could be an issue behind the scenes, following a wretched campaign which saw United surrender their membership of English football’s most prestigious club.
Jokanovic, who is attempting to persuade both Sander Berge and Aaron Ramsdale to remain in South Yorkshire next season after attracting admiring glances from Arsenal, Jokanovic said: “I believe they have quality and I will give them trust. READ FULL STORY HERE
Promising new for Blades after Johnson’s latest Covid-19 announcement
Supporters of Sheffield United may soon be able to experience a full Bramall Lane again after the prime minister’s latest coronavirus lockdown update yesterday evening.
Boris Johnson addressed the nation two weeks before the planned ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19, when he plans to end Covid-19 restrictions with the exact details set to be confirmed next week.
Johnson set out what he called a five-point plan for living with Covid, revealing he will remove all legal limits on how many people can gather and the amount of people who will gather for sports events and concerts. The legal obligation to wear a face mask will also be removed, although guidance to wear them in certain situations will remain. No so-called Covid passport will be required for entry into events, according to the PM. READ FULL STORY HERE
How Slav prepared to take over as Blades boss
Exactly five weeks separated the announcement that Slavisa Jokanović would be the new Sheffield United manager and his official start date at Bramall Lane, and it’s fair to say that the Serb did not let the grass grow under his feet as he prepared to return to England.
Jokanović missed the first few days of United pre-season training as he saw out the final weeks of his contract in Qatar, but was briefed with regular updates on how his squad were approaching their business before he met them in person for the first time on July 1.
The transition was not completely smooth – Jokanović admitted to The Star that he had called some of his charges by the wrong name on his first day, before learning quickly and not making the same mistake again – but was helped by some detailed research into United’s playing staff and the reasons behind their abject relegation to the Championship last season. READ FULL STORY HERE
New boss’s pledge to Blades’ exciting young stars
Sheffield United’s stable of young talent has received a major boost ahead of the new season after Slavisa Jokanovic insisted ability, not age, will decide the make-up of his starting eleven.
The Serb inherited a squad containing a number of teenagers and fledgling professionals when he officially took charge of the club last week, with the likes of Daniel Jebbison, Iliman Ndiaye and Antwoine Hackford all making positive impressions during the second half of last term.
With Rhys Norrington-Davies and Regan Slater also hoping to catch Jokanovic’s eye after completing loan spells with Stoke City and Hull City respectively, the former Watford and Fulham manager confirmed he is prepared to hand opportunities to anyone who demonstrates the qualities he looks for in a footballer. READ FULL STORY HERE
Pros and cons of selling Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal
Arsenal’s pursuit of Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale looks like it could be one of the big transfer sagas of the summer, with the Gunners set to test the Blades’ resolve to keep hold of one of their star men with an official bid whenever England’s European Championship campaign comes to an end.
Ramsdale has been banned from talking about his future while on England duty by Southgate, and is understood to be happy at Bramall Lane. But that hasn’t put Arsenal off, even if they have so far baulked at United’s £40m valuation of a goalkeeper they re-signed from AFC Bournemouth last summer.
So, should United stick or twist? We had a look at the (few) pros and (many) cons to United selling another of their brightest young players… READ FULL STORY HERE
Slav’s dossier on young guns
Slavisa Jokanovic performed detailed analysis of all Sheffield United’s up-coming young players before taking charge of the club, after confirming he is ready to grant first team opportunities to any members of its development programme who impresses next term.
Although Jokanovic’s reign did not officially begin until Thursday, he revealed videos of all of United’s matches last season were delivered to his in-box in May - when their owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced his appointment.
Already aware of the primary reasons behind United’s relegation from the Premier League having watched their season unravel from afar, Jokanovic paid particular attention to those during the closing stages of the campaign with Paul Heckingbottom, who took over on a caretaker basis when Chris Wilder left his job, choosing to blood a number of Steelphalt Academy graduates. They included Iliman Ndiaye, Femi Seriki and Daniel Jebbison who became the youngest person to score on their full PL debut when he netted the winning goal at Everton in May. READ FULL STORY HERE
'Proud' Maguire hails support network as former Blade bounces back from nightmare few months
What a difference nine months has made for Sheffield’s Harry Maguire.
Back in October 2020, still reeling from a raft of charges following a high-profile street incident on Mykonos, Greece, Maguire was sent off after 30 minutes of England’s Nations League clash with Denmark and The Independent newspaper summed up his season as “a nightmare”.
July 2021 sees Maguire and England set to lock horns with Denmark again, and things are very different for both player and country. The Manchester United defender, formerly of Sheffield United, has been a key part of England’s march to the semi-finals of the European Championships and will line up against Kasper Hjulmand’s men at Wembley on Wednesday evening looking to help England book their first ever Euros final date. READ FULL STORY HERE
‘Robust, mature’ young striker joins Charlton Athletic from United
Steve Avory, Charlton Athletic’s academy manager, says he is delighted to have signed Ryan Viggars after the striker’s move from Sheffield United.
The Wales youth international was on trial at the Addicks last season and has signed a two-year deal with the London club.
“We got Ryan down here in two spells - one with the U23s and latterly with the U18s,” Avory said of Viggars. READ FULL STORY HERE
Lundstram reveals why he signed for Rangers
John Lundstram says the lure of playing in the Champions League for Rangers was too good to turn down after being officially unveiled at Ibrox following his release from Sheffield United this summer.
The midfielder left Bramall Lane on a free after failing to agree a new contract following the Blades’ relegation from the Premier League last season, and was confirmed as a Rangers player earlier today.
Ross Wilson, Rangers’ sporting director, told the club’s official website that there was “a lot of competition” for Lundstram’s signature, with boss Steven Gerrard adding that Lundstram has “undoubted quality to enhance our midfield with his technical ability and physicality”.
And the 27-year-old boyhood Liverpool fan says Gerrard’s prescence in the Ibrox dugout was a key factor behind the move. READ FULL STORY HERE