Sheffield United: 'He gave us our oxygen' - Manager pays tribute to the architect of a famous win

Although Iliman Ndiaye and Morgan Gibbs-White dominated the conversation afterwards, manager Slavisa Jokanovic refused to overlook the contribution Billy Sharp made towards Sheffield United’s win over Peterborough.

By James Shield
Sunday, 12th September 2021, 11:53 am

Despite watching Ndiaye score twice on his full debut for the club and Gibbs-White net once on his first appearance, Jokanovic described Sharp as the “oxygen” of the team as Darren Ferguson’s men were swept aside at Bramall Lane.

Usually best known for his finishing, Sharp’s selflessness against the visitors from Cambridgeshire laid the foundations for a result United hope will kickstart their season having lost three and drawn two of their five Championship outings since Jokanovic started work in July.

Billy didn’t score but he made a really good job for the team,” said Jokanovic, noting how the 35-year-old created half of the goals United scored en route to a 6-2 victory. “Billy had the assists and his movement gave us oxygen. Today he didn’t do what he has done I don;t know how many times in his career, but he did a great job overall.”

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Jokanovic’s decision to change United’s system in order to accommodate Sharp, Ndiaye and Gibbs-White in their starting eleven proved to be inspired as the trio struck up an immediate rapport. Ben Osborn, usually deployed as a midfielder or wing-back, also profited from Jokanovic’s switch to a 4-2-3-1 formation - following in Ndiaye’s footsteps by claiming a brace of his own.

Revealing he decided to make the switch after observing how Gibbs-White had clicked with the Frenchman and Sharp during training following his arrival on loan from Wolverhampton Wanderers, Jokanovic said: “We tried different things in the week. They had a link between them and were combining - Iliman, Morgan and Billy. I saw that on the training ground. So I tried to participate them in this game.”

“Everyone, they all provided and gave something to what we did out there,” Jokanovic added. “I am pleased for my team because I think they needed a result like that and also a performance like that. I have always trusted in them and their ability, because I know they are good players so hopefully this helps that process with them also.”

Sheffield, England, 11th September 2021. Christy Pym of Peterborough Utd saves at the feet of Billy Sharp of Sheffield Utd during the Sky Bet Championship match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture credit should read: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Iliman Ndiaye is interviewed after the match: Alistair Langham / Sportimage