Sheffield United: How Slavisa Jokanovic reponded to 'promotion favourites' claim

Slavisa Jokanovic has refused to be drawn on claims that Sheffield United will be expected to achieve promotion from the Championship next term, describing pre-season predictions about how the race for Premier League football is likely to unfold as “difficult to understand.”

Saturday, 3rd July 2021, 11:42 am

The Serb was asked about the decision to install his team among the favourites to go up after being officially unveiled as their new manager.

Jokanovic, the first person from overseas to take charge of United since they were founded in 1889, responded by acknowledging that whilst he appreciates expectation levels will be high, it is impossible to accurately assess the state of play in the division before a ball has even been kicked.

“They are the favourites, we are the favourites, I don’t know what people mean by that in sport,” he said. “I find it difficult to understand, because we need to play 46 games. Those are what decides.

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“France were the favourites (for the European Championships) weren’t they? Now they are out.

“If I believe we are already so good and that things are that easy, that being favourites matters, then maybe I can just go away, take a little rest and then come back to just prepare the team for the first game?

“Seriously, in this moment, you can’t talk about favourites.”

Despite his low key approach, Jokanovic is known to be broadly satisfied with the options at his disposal after replacing Chris Wilder at the helm. Nevertheless, with United’s relegation from the Premier League inevitably prompting speculation about the futures of some key players, the former Yugoslavia international is planning “a refresh” with midfield thought to be a priority area.

Slavisa Jokanovic has his eye on the prize: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

“I can’t stop people from talking,” Jokanovic continued. “So I won’t try, because that is natural.

“I will try to avoid talking about this myself, though, because I know what the answer will be.

“We have a long journey to go on, and we know it will be difficult and hard. Everyone, at this moment, will say the same because they know that’s how it is.

"We have to work hard and be smart and clever.”