Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic makes an admission about tactics after being confronted by questions
Slavisa Jokanovic has signalled he will continue to experiment with tactics in an attempt to improve Sheffield United’s fortunes, telling players they must be comfortable performing in different positions.
Eighteenth in the Championship table following last weekend’s defeat by Blackburn Rovers, Jokanovic has spent the past five days performing a series of intensive training ground exercises with those members of his squad not on international duty.
Appointed following United’s relegation from the Premier League last season, Jokanovic initially persevered with the 3-5-2 formation preferred by his predecessor Chris Wilder before switching to a 4-2-3-1 after expressing concerns about the number of goals his team had scored.
Although their returns in the final third have improved since, United’s greater creativity has come at a price with nine conceded in the last five outings. Their rearguard was breached seven times in their first five outings of the campaign, although four of those came during a defeat by West Bromwich Albion.
Questioned if asking those under his command to be flexible was contributing to those problems, Jokanovic cited Nottingham Forest’s decision to ask Jack Colback to operate outside of his usual midfield role during United’s draw at the City Ground earlier this month to refute that theory.
“It is not a question of being obsessed by tactics or obsession in general,” he told The Star. “I don’t know if people ask Steve Cooper why he (Colback) plays that role? I am not sure if people ask him why he needs to play that shape? But he did it well.”
Despite being partly enforced by the vacancies which still exist within United’s squad ahead of the January transfer window, Jokanovic’s strategy also reflects his desire to make the most of the attacking options at his disposal.
With Billy Sharp and Lys Mousset emerging as his first choice strikers in recent weeks, United’s record signing Rhian Brewster has frequently been deployed on the wing. He was on target for the first time since completing a £23.5m move from Liverpool last term during the loss at Ewood Park.
“I believe football players can do different things,” Jokanovic said. “If some of my players have the characteristics to do different things, why not?”