Sheffield United: 'Pressure? That is working in Tesco,' says Slavisa Jokanovic as he urges his players to "enjoy" themselves at Luton Town
Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic has admitted he feels an obligation to not only deliver results but also entertain after acknowledging his team will never realise its potential unless players and supporters alike are inspired by what the club is trying to achieve.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s game against Luton Town, where United hope to record their first win of the new Championship season, the Serb attempted to erase some of the disappointment surrounding recent results by insisting there are signs the squad he inherited last month is beginning to grasp his ideas and methods following a chaotic summer warm-up programme wrecked by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Asked if he felt some of those under his command had “fallen out of love with football” during last tern’s relegation from the Premier League, Jokanovic also denied United’s faltering start to the campaign had left them under pressure, saying: “They must start to enjoy it. If you don't enjoy your profession, if you are always under unnecessary stress, then what are you scared about? Why?
“You can’t be scared of football. That is completely wrong. Football is a serious business, yes. It is about pressure, responsibility and strong words. But in England, as you say, football is the beautiful game. We must make it more beautiful.”
“Football isn’t pressure,” the Serb continued. “Working in Tesco or somewhere else, that is pressure.
“This is a beautiful life, a wonderful way of earning a living, and we must all embrace and enjoy that.”
United travel to Bedfordshire having lost three and drawn one of their four outings in the competition so far, although they did reach the third round of the Carabao Cup following a 2-1 win over Derby County on Tuesday. Having led Watford and Fulham into the top-flight during his previous two managerial positions in England, Jokanovic was appointed with a reputation for creating teams as pleasing on the eye as they are effective. Despite accepting United have not made the start they were hoping for, captain Billy Sharp yesterday reminded their counterparts in Hertfordshire and west London also took time to adjust to Jokanovic’s methods. The centre-forward, who enters the match at Kenilworth Road having scored in each of his last two matches, also referenced how United failed to immediately fire at the beginning of their two promotion winning campaigns under the former Chelsea and Yugoslavia midfielder’s predecessor Chris Wilder.
With United selling out their ticket allocation for the trip to Luton, Jokanovic said: “I must say, I am really impressed with our supporters. They are coming, between other things, to enjoy themselves.
“They want to enjoy watching the games and they can enjoy it if we are also enjoying ourselves on the field. Come on, let’s go out there and enjoy ourselves. We need to enjoy ourselves, perform and bring entertainment for the people.”
Although he boasts a reputation for being a tactical obsessive, Jokanovic stressed he does not want to burden United’s players with a raft of complicated instructions, adding: “I can scream but it is the decision of the player that makes football so beautiful. Because when they take the right one, that is when people go ‘Wow.’
“I must protect my players because they are working hard. Now, we must also impress.”