Sheffield United: George Baldock busts a big myth about Slavisa Jokanovic
George Baldock has hailed manager Slavisa Jokanovic’s impact since taking charge of Sheffield United, insisting the Serb’s presence at Bramall Lane means the club is still in with a genuine chance of being promoted from the Championship despite making a slow start to the new season.
The defender, who is set to make his 150th appearance for United at AFC Bournemouth tomorrow, admitted his team mates were short of confidence and self-belief when Jokanovic started work in July after being relegated from the Premier League three months earlier.
Describing how he immediately set about tackling the problem after detecting there was an issue with morale, Baldock told The Star that Jokanovic’s pedigree meant the messages he relayed resonated with a squad, saying: “I think it was vital because we’d had such a disappointing year. Confidence levels were a bit low but he was really quick to tell us that we are good players and are a good team.
“He told us not to worry about last year, about what happened. He told us that what was important was the future, and taking things game by game. That’s what we’ve done.”
Despite arriving with a reputation for playing a distinct brand of football, Baldock explained Jokanovic, who led Watford and Fulham into the top-flight before being unveiled as Chris Wilder’s permanent successor, is actually a pragmatist, adding: “We’ve all bought into what he wants to do and is trying to do. It’s not all about one way of playing. It’s not all about taking unbelievable risks.
“Yes, there’s a certain way he likes to do things. But he’ll also tell us to go long at times and go into the channels.”
United travel to the Vitality Stadium in encouraging form, although Jokanovic acknowledged Tuesday’s defeat by Middlesbrough was a set-back during his pre-match press conference. They had arrived on Teesside unbeaten in five league matches, taking 10 points from a possible 12 since the last international break.