Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic accepts criticism and outlines how he plans to try and arrest The Blades' slump in results
Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager, has told supporters he understands the criticism his team are facing after failing to arrest the slump in results which saw them relegated from the Premier League last season.
United remain without a win in the Championship this term, after Huddersfield Town snatched victory in the 94th minute of a dramatic Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane, which had earlier seen Billy Sharp score an added time equaliser following Josh Koroma’s opener for the visitors.
United have now lost 33 or their 48 games in all competitions since September; a miserable run which has left the squad Jokanovic inherited nearly eight weeks ago devoid of self-belief and confidence. The Serb’s efforts to instigate a change in fortunes have been handicapped by the club’s failure to make any significant progress in the transfer market, with Ben Davies the only new player to so far arrive during the summer window.
Jokanovic, who has told United’s hierarchy that “fresh faces” unencumbered by the events of the past 11 months are required to lift the mood behind the scenes, said: “I can understand the criticism of myself and my players. But I trust in my work and my process. I am sure we will be on a different level, in a different position, soon.”
With a move for Sampdoria midfielder Ronaldo Vieira collapsing during the build-up to the meeting with Carlos Corberan’s side, Jokanovic has admitted United need to be “busy” before this month’s deadline in order to secure the five targets he clearly feels he was promised before officially taking charge on July 1st.
In the meantime, the former Yugoslavia international, who has previously steered both Watford and Fulham to promotion from the second tier, is being forced to rely solely on tactical acumen to try and get United back to winning ways. With his team left visibly shell-shocked by Samuels Colwill’s strike, it explains Jokanovic’s reluctance to criticise aspects of United’s performances - which, against Huddersfield, included a failure to translate possession into clear cut opportunities.
“It is a really strange game for us, I need to find some positivity for my players,” he said. “I must be proud of them and I must be strong. It sounds wrong after a defeat but that is how I am. I know people aren't happy and we must change the situation.”
“We try to attack the area with a lot of players,” Jokanovic continued. “We tried both sides (of the pitch) and we didn’t find it easy to create the chances but we were around the right areas. And if you are around the right areas, then you can expect something to happen at some point. At some point, if you keep doing that and getting into those positions, then it will happen. And when it does, we must be ready to build on that and grasp it.”
United face Derby County in the EFL Cup on Tuesday night before returning to Championship action at Luton Town on Saturday.
“The crowd tried to push the team and give us confidence to win the game,” Jokanovic said. “Billy Sharp scores which is a positive for us. But it was a really strange situation at the end of the game and we didn’t have the chance to lift the fans."