Sheffield United: Slavisa Jokanovic's dossier on Bramall Lane's next generation
Slavisa Jokanovic performed detailed analysis of all Sheffield United’s up-coming young players before taking charge of the club, after confirming he is ready to grant first team opportunities to any members of its development programme who impresses next term.
Although Jokanovic’s reign did not officially begin until Thursday, he revealed videos of all of United’s matches last season were delivered to his in-box in May - when their owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud announced his appointment.
Already aware of the primary reasons behind United’s relegation from the Premier League having watched their season unravel from afar, Jokanovic paid particular attention to those during the closing stages of the campaign with Paul Heckingbottom, who took over on a caretaker basis when Chris Wilder left his job, choosing to blood a number of Steelphalt Academy graduates. They included Iliman Ndiaye, Femi Seriki and Daniel Jebbison who became the youngest person to score on their full PL debut when he netted the winning goal at Everton in May.
“Yes, of course I watched them,” Jokanovic said. “I have seen the games and studied them. Not only the performances, but also the performances of people within them.
“There were already things that I knew, of course. There are people I already know, even if I hadn’t actually met all of them in person.
“But there were also some that I didn’t. It was good to see, and interesting to see, what they can do and how they can play.”
The investigation Jokanovic undertook, before officially relinquishing his position with Al-Gharafa in Qatar, has helped shape United’s schedule since last week’s return to training. He gained further insight into the quality within the Steelphalt Academy when a raft of teenagers and rookie professionals were invited to work with the senior squad on Friday.
“In football, I think you must always try and open your mind and be smart,” said Jokanovic, after insisting ability rather than age will decide the composition of his first starting eleven. “We will all work together to do that, because that is how you are successful.”