Sheffield United Digest: Slavisa Jokanovic's warning over transfer business; Jack O'Connell injury blow; Aaron Ramsdale's post-Euros message
Sheffield United must begin the process of signing players sooner rather than later this summer, or risk undermining their bid for an instant return to the Premier League under new boss Slavisa Jokanovic.
Although the Serb declared himself broadly satisfied with the players he inherited after officially taking charge last month, vacancies for at least one attacking midfielder and two centre-halves remain unfilled.
With United set to return to competitive action next month and Oliver Norwood, who worked under Jokanovic at Fulham revealed the 52-year-old is “doing things a lot differently”, Bramall Lane’s hierarchy accept the quicker fresh faces arrive the better prepared they will be for August 7th’s game against Birmingham City.
Despite pledging to adopt a more consensual approach towards recruitment than his predecessor Chris Wilder, Jokanovic has still reminded United’s administrators that time is of the essence in this summer’s transfer market. READ FULL STORY HERE
Fresh blow in O’Connell’s bid to regain fitness
Jack O’Connell has suffered a further blow in his bid for fitness, after Sheffield United confirmed that he has undergone a second operation on the knee problem that has kept him out since last September.
The influential defender played only twice last season before a decision was made for him to go under the knife in a bid to correct the knee issue that was plaguing his performances.
Without him, United were relegated from the Premier League and the defender himself missed the chance to potentially play himself into contention for a spot in the England squad for this summer’s Euros.
Now, he faces a fresh battle for fitness after going under the knife again this summer. READ FULL STORY HERE
Slav’s respect for long-serving staff member
Slavisa Jokanovic has signalled he is prepared to work closely with Paul Mitchell, Sheffield United’s long-serving head of recruitment, after praising the “excellent” work performed by his new club’s talent-spotters.
Jokanovic delivered his assessment of Bramall Lane’s scouting department having admitted it is “important” those tasked with delivering the targets Mitchell and his colleagues have identified begin making progress in the transfer market.
Although his words were not designed to be critical - a number of factors, including the Covid-19 pandemic and recent European Championships, have had a debilitating effect on the market - Jokanovic has privately stressed that any delays could undermine United’s attempts to start the new season strongly.
Relegated from the Premier League last season, they return to competitive action with a home game against Birmingham City next month. READ FULL STORY HERE
Rammers breaks his silence after England Euro 2020 experience
Aaron Ramsdale, the Sheffield United and England goalkeeper, has broken his silence after his country’s Euro 2020 campaign came to an end with a cruel penalty shootout defeat in the final on Sunday.
Ramsdale, who was drafted into Gareth Southgate’s final squad for the tournament after ex-Blade Dean Henderson pulled out through injury, was an unused substitute throughout England’s campaign, which went all the way to penalties in the final at Wembley.
There was more spot kick heartache for England as Italy prevailed 3-2, but Ramsdale was a proud man as he prepares to return to United ahead of the new Championship season. READ FULL STORY HERE
Boss close to finalising list of summer targets
Slavisa Jokanovic is continuing to work his way through the list of potential new signings presented to him by Sheffield United’s hierarchy following his arrival at Bramall Lane earlier this month, identifying those players he believes can strengthen his squad and striking off others regarded as unsuitable.
The process, which is now close to completion following a series of recruitment meetings last week, gathered pace following the appointment of Chema Sanz, previously technical director at Valencia, to United’s backroom staff.
The Spaniard, who was introduced to the squad during their recent training camp in Estepona, has also provided his thoughts on where United need to strengthen according to a source who travelled with them to the Costa del Sol.
Although Jokanovic began assessing the candidates proposed by United’s chief talent spotter Paul Mitchell before officially taking charge, the Serb told the board of directors he wanted to observe those already in situ at close quarters before making changes. READ FULL STORY HERE
Former Blade Maguire’s call to social media companies after racist abuse
Harry Maguire, the former Sheffield United defender and Euros hero, says social media companies need to do more to combat racism after three of his England teammates were abused online following their loss in the final last weekend.
Maguire, now of Manchester United, was named in UEFA’s official team of the tournament after helping England all the way to the final of Euro 2020, before their heartbreaking penalty shoot-out defeat to Italy.
The Sheffield-born Blades academy graduate smashed home his penalty in the shootout, but Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka all missed their spot-kicks as the Italians won 3-2. All three were later racially abused online.
"Something needs to be done,” Maguire said. “The companies need to verify every account. It is too easy to troll and abuse. To be racist is just too easy to be done and get away with.” READ FULL STORY HERE
Boss’s honest admission over his new coaching staff
He seemed puzzled that the question had even arisen in the first place. After all, if they weren’t experts in their respective disciplines, Chema Sanz, Rafael Cristobal and Marco Cesarini would never have received invitations to join Sheffield United
But after repeating it back just to check nothing had been lost in cyberspace, Slavisa Jokanovic stared into the camera of his club issue laptop and delivered an answer which provided an intriguing insight into the quartet’s relationship.
“Whenever I organise my staff, whenever I have to bring people in, I always try and see if they are better coaches than me,” the United manager said as he explained the selection process. “If I believe they can make me better, help me prepare a team better, then I want them around me." READ FULL STORY HERE
Over 2,000 Blades set for first away day since last March
Just over 2,000 Sheffield United fans will be able to follow their club to an away game for the first time since last March when the Blades travel to near neighbours Doncaster Rovers for their latest pre-season friendly later this month.
The Blades have been allocated 2,012 tickets for the game at the Keepmoat Stadium on Wednesday, July 28, with a further 1,000 available if required.
For the Blades who attend, it will be their first away game since March 3’s trip to Reading in the FA Cup.
Tickets, priced £10 for adults, £5 for seniors and ‘young adults’ aged 18-24 and just £1 for under-18s will be allocated using loyalty points. READ FULL STORY HERE
Alan Biggs: Continental approach is best for Blades
One Serb, two Spaniards, an Italian and a Dutchman are now heading up Sheffield United…and the talk has been of evolution, not revolution!
But it’s not wrong. The Blades might just have the best of both worlds here.
All change off the field, minimal change on the field - but naturally the sharpest focus is on the Blades’ first foreign manager and his continental coaching team.
And I’m siding with my learned friend Kevin Gage in his belief that the timing of this radical culture change is probably for the best. READ FULL STORY HERE
Former Blades target reveals why he signed for rivals West Brom
Matt Clarke, the former Sheffield United target, says he wanted to sign for their Championship promotion rivals West Bromwich Albion as soon as the Baggies’ interest became apparent.
Clarke, a left-sided defender in a similar mould to United’s injured star Jack O’Connell, emerged as a player of interest for the Blades when Phil Jagielka left in the summer, with continued uncertainty about Kean Bryan and O’Connell’s availability.
Brighton and Hove Albion, Clarke’s parent club, were initially thought to be open to a permanent move for the former Portsmouth defender, who is yet to play a Premier League game for the Seagulls. READ FULL STORY HERE
How Blades target could still play at Bramall Lane on opening day
Dion Sanderson, the Sheffield United target, may end up starting the season at Bramall Lane after all – after the Blades’ opening-day opponents, Birmingham City, reportedly joined the race for the youngster’s loan signing.
The 21-year-old defender, who spent last season on loan at Sunderland, has already been the subject of bids from the Black Cats this summer, as well as their rivals Newcastle United.
Sanderson was identified as a possible target for the Blades following the departure of Phil Jagielka, while doubts remain over the immediate availability of Kean Bryan and Jack O’Connell. READ FULL STORY HERE
Blow for Blues as ‘keeper is hospitalised with Covid-19
Neil Etheridge, the Birmingham City goalkeeper scheduled to face Sheffield United on the first day of the new Championship season, is in hospital receiving treatment for Covid-19, the club have confirmed.
The 31-year-old Philippines international had recently reported back for pre-season training with the Blues.
Blues technical director Craig Gardner said: "On behalf of the board, the staff, the players and everyone connected to the club, we're all behind Neil and willing him on in his battle against Covid-19
"We're in constant contact with his close family and will continue to support them in any way we can." READ FULL STORY HERE