Sheffield United: 'We need to look in the mirror' admits defender John Egan, as he highlights the importance of backing the manager with new faces

John Egan has admitted Sheffield United’s players need to “take a look in the mirror” after their poor start to the season continued.

By James Shield
Sunday, 29th August 2021, 3:00 pm

Following yesterday’s goalless draw at Luton Town, a match the home side controlled for long periods, United enter the international break 23rd in the Championship table and still searching for their first league win since being relegated four months ago.

Having been told he is expected to lead them straight back into the top-flight, Jokanovic has made little attempt to disguise his frustration with United’s slow progress in the transfer market - pointedly referring to “promises” rather than recruitment plans before leaving Kenilworth Road.

Egan, one of the few United players to perform anywhere near his maximum since against Nathan Jones’ side, told The Star: “We are honest with each other. There’s a lot of big characters and experienced players in that dressing room.

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John Egan in action at Luton Town: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“I could stand in front of you now and make up excuse after excuse. I could talk about the opposition, pre-season getting disrupted by Covid and all of that crap.

“But you have to look at the 90 minutes of football. You have to be better than who you’re up against, you have to out fight and out work the opposition. We haven’t been and that’s why we haven’t been winning games. Sometimes, you’ve just got to take a look in the mirror and then go from there.”

Jokanovic, who led both Watford and out of the second tier before joining United from Qatari outfit Al-Gharafa, has seen only one new face arrive in South Yorkshire since taking charge last month. Despite being satisfied with the core of the squad he inherited, people close to the Serb have explained that he told Bramall Lane’s board of directors that a refresh was still required to reinvigorate the team both mentally and physically. Defender Ben Davies, whose loan from Liverpool remains the only deal United have brokered ahead of Tuesday’s deadline, has impressed during his two outings so far; something which is only likely to heighten Jokanovic’s sense of disappointment.

“Ben Davies, he’s been top class,” Egan, the United and Republic of Ireland centre-half, said. “Everyone knows that has been a problem position for us since Jack (O’Connell) got injured.

George Baldock of Sheffield Utd and John Egan of Sheffield Utd warm up before the Sky Bet Championship match at Kenilworth Road: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

“Ben has come in and he’s been calm, assured and really, really good. Nothing seems to bother him and he’s a really good lad as well.”

Speaking before the trip to Bedfordshire, Jokanovic admitted United must start to “enjoy” themselves again after the experiences of last term.

Echoing that opinion, Egan said: “The manager is huge on that. He’s a fantastic manager, his staff are fantastic and they’ve got brilliant ideas. The training is brilliant too. He places great emphasis on us enjoying ourselves. We’re just not taking it onto the pitch.

“He knows we’re good players, he tells us that. We’ve just got to back ourselves. It takes time, it will take more work and more games but hopefully we’ll get better and better as the games go on.”

Slavisa Jokanovic: Simon Bellis / Sportimage