Sheffield United: 'If we change course now, it would be a major mistake' warns manager Slavisa Jokanovic
Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager, has warned any change of strategy could have devastating consequences for his team’s promotion push after insisting it is still far too early to predict how this season’s race for the Premier League will unfold.
United enter tomorrow’s game against Stoke City ranked 14th in the Championship table after suffering back to back losses before the international break.
Although Jokanovic admitted their chequered start to the season has been frustrating, particularly after going five matches unbeaten before those defeats to Middlesbrough and AFC Bournemouth, he described the situation as “definitely” retrievable, arguing it was inevitable that a squad of players relegated from the top-flight last term would experience some inconsistent results.
“Listen, you can change your strategy,”Jokanovic said. “You can keep changing your strategy. But it is important to have one, to stick to it, depending on what the situation is.
“It is our intention to come straight back. Of course it is. But whatever happens, you must have a strategy for a short space of time, a medium period of time and over a longer period as well.”
“Now it’s 35 games (remaining),” he added. “The season is not over. The season has just started.
“We know we can do better than we are doing right now. We are not especially satisfied with how we are doing right now. But we know we can change it. Of that, I have no doubts at all. Because I believe in these players and I know what they can do.”
Having arrived at Bramall Lane in July, three months after their demotion from the PL was confirmed, Jokanovic’s attempts to immediately transform United’s fortunes were hampered by the club’s slow progress in the transfer market. But after brokering loan deals for Morgan Gibbs-White, Ben Davies, Conor Hourihane and Robin Olsen during the closing stages of the window, performance levels have significantly improved with only two controversial refereeing decisions denying Jokanovic’s men a share of the spoils when they faced Scott Parker’s league leaders before the international break.
“The final target, it is not necessary to repeat because everyone understands,” said Jokanovic, who is set to be without Sander Berge and George Baldock against fourth placed City. “It is not necessary to repeat it every day. It is necessary to focus on Saturday. I try to avoid these types of answers and these conversations, to be focused on my work and my life. We will see where we are in April. That is when it matters. That is when it counts, although we know that we need to improve and get better.”
"We are confident,” he added. “Even against Bournemouth, I felt we were making progress even though we can play better and be even more competitive.
"Stoke will be happy and confident too. If they are too confident and happy then that will be good new for me. But I know they will be dangerous because they have good players and experienced people there. But we will be ready and we believe in what we are doing. The players, they are showing that.”