Sheffield United: This was Slavisa Jokanovic's first message to Bramall Lane's first team squad

Slavisa Jokanovic has told Sheffield United’s players that next season’s battle for promotion from the Championship could come down to a state of mind, after addressing his squad in person for the first time.

Thursday, 1st July 2021, 5:30 pm

The Serb delivered the message before this morning’s training session at the Steelphalt Academy; his first since officially taking charge.

It echoes the one Paul Heckingbottom relayed to the team during last season’s relegation from the Premier League, before relinquishing temporary control when Jokanovic was appointed.

“If people think it’s going to be easy, then they’re going to be in for a rude awakening,” said Heckingbottom, who oversaw United’s return to work ahead of Jokanovic’s arrival. “But these lads have shown before that they can do it by getting out of the division in the first place and most of them are still here.

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Sheffield United's players have been told to stick together: Andrew Yates/Sportimage
Sheffield United's players have been told to stick together: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

“We know what they’re capable of. They’ve shown it. Everyone has seen it.

“So if the mindset is right and the attitude is right, and knowing this group as I do I’m sure they will be, then I’ve got every confidence and faith in them.”

Jokanovic confirmed he is broadly satisfied with the options already at his disposal, describing the group he has inherited from Chris Wilder as better placed to challenge than the ones he eventually led to promotion at Watford and Fulham. But that does not mean the former Yugoslavia and Chelsea midfielder is convinced it needs little or no work, with a list of transfer targets already being presented to United’s board of directors and owner HRH Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

There are also question marks over the futures of Aaron Ramsdale, George Baldock and Sander Berge, who have all attracted interest from rival clubs. However, United are prepared to offload Berge as part of a restructuring exercise.

Slavisa Jokanovic has arrived at Bramall Lane: PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

John Lundstram’s refusal to extend his contract means midfield is a priority position for Jokanovic during this summer’s window, while decisions will also be taken on whether or not to loan out some of United’s exciting young talents or keep them in South Yorkshire.

Jokanovic will perform his first round of interviews as United manager tomorrow.