Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic explains how he plans to solve the self-belief problem

Slavisa Jokanovic, the Sheffield United manager, has explained how he plans to help his players rediscover their self-belief after watching them suffer another dramatic late collapse; this time against Blackpool at Bramall Lane.

Sunday, 31st October 2021, 5:00 pm

A 76th minute strike from Keshi Anderson proved enough to condemn United to their seventh defeat in 15 outings this season, meaning Jokanovic’s side will enter Tuesday’s game against Nottingham Forest 17th in the Championship table.

Although the Serb lamented the result and accepted why sections of the home support had voiced their displeasure following the final whistle, he was more concerned by the sight of a team once famed for its fighting spirit suffering another catastrophic loss of confidence after conceding.

Six days earlier, United had limped across the finishing line during their 3-2 win at Barnsley despite establishing a three goal lead as the lack of confidence many observers trace back to last term’s relegation from the Premier League was also exposed.

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Reminding that United were in control of the game, with Morgan Gibbs-White twice going close and Lys Mousset hitting the woodwork before Anderson pounced, Jokanovic told The Star: “This is part of our work. You can not cry if you feel unlucky. We need to be brave and continue working. We don’t need to expect these kind of (bad) situations are always going to happen to us.

“Yes, we need to cut out mistakes. The one here turned out to be huge. But we can not use this (as an excuse) for the reaction. I can not do everything. But I want the players to trust in themselves.”

In the unlikely event that he is allowed to perform a major overhaul of United’s squad after Christmas - following a painfully slow start to the summer transfer window, Jokanovic’s business was ultimately limited to loan and free signings - the former Yugoslavia international, a promotion winner with both Watford and Fulham before being appointed in May, has no other option but to try and keep reinforcing positive messages on the training ground.

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“The plan was, for 15 minutes, not to take unnecessary risks and then try to create the chances,” Jokanovic said. “We did that and we were unlucky not to get the goal. We were unlucky not to be more dangerous.

“I accept that explanation will not be enough for the people in the stands. But I will show them (the players) what they can do and that they can do it well. I don’t believe it is impossible. I believe it is possible.”

Speaking afterwards, Jokanovic’s opposite number Neil Critchley described Blackpool’s victory as the “toughest” of the seven they have recorded since progressing through last season’s League One play-offs.

“It is true, we were creating the chances and I don’t remember them creating anything,” Jokanovic added. “I can not give you now a clear explanation of how we lost the game. But the result is clear, and we did.

“I am saying a lot that we didn’t play bad but lost. We are in some sort of process but this has been going on for some months now. I believe we played better than Blackpool but we lost everything in one situation. This is not the first time for us. We need to fix this problem.”