Sheffield United Transfers: Blades must surely act in January window if they are to snap out of current malaise

The January transfer window was 45 days away from springing open when Slavisa Jokanović faced the local press on Thursday afternoon and admitted that he had received no assurances from his board about what Sheffield United would be allowed to do in it.

Friday, 19th November 2021, 6:33 am

As rallying cries go, for a fanbase desperate for some good news and promise after a season mostly consisting of strife and struggle so far, it didn’t quite hit the spot.

Jokanović can bear no fault for that; he is only relaying the message and should actually be commended for actually answering the question, rather than hide behind innuendo and obfuscation.

He, and everyone else of a red and white persuasion, can only hope that planning is going on behind the scenes in preparation for the opening of the window – which, given United’s current precarious position but also their desperation to get promoted again, before the impact of last season’s relegation really begins to bite, could be one of the most important in recent years.

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One school of thought is that the Blades are keeping their powder dry and waiting to assess their promotion chances before loosening or tightening the purse-strings. It’s a strategy that has been employed before; most notably in January when United’s board decided the club were already doomed to relegation and refused to sanction any signings.

Forgetting the fact that United ended up paying almost as much in a loan fee this summer than it would have cost to sign one of their top targets permanently in January, or that Jokanović has been restricted to loans and free transfers so far as he bids to reshape his squad, this is a window that United simply have to get right.

That isn’t to say Jokanović should be let loose with a blank chequebook and a remit to sign whoever he wants. Of course there has to be limits, and I appreciate this is an easy column to write when it isn’t my hand on the tiller and my name on the cheques that need signing when what comes in doesn’t cover what’s going out.

Slavisa Jokanovic applauds the Sheffield United supporters following a win for his team: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

But if Jokanović isn’t going to be given the tools to do his job, what was the point in hiring him? He is a coach that makes players better but United’s current problems go far beyond that. Jokanović would have to be a master psychologist, as well as coach, to turn things around quickly with his current group.

The alternative is an influx of fresh blood and otherwise, you have to fear that the current malaise will only continue. The club, in fairness, may well already have a set of plans in place. But if that is the case, does it seem odd that they haven’t been shared with the most important football man at the club?

Jokanović, to his credit, has made no attempt to dodge responsibility for United’s season so far. He appears to have acknowledged what can be done better and is doing all he can to fix it. The same now must go for other areas of the football club. If you always do as you always have, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.