Sheffield United: Why Slavisa Jokanovic is attempting to change the narrative around his squad
Slavisa Jokanovic wants his players to show “bravery” when they return to Championship action next weekend as he attempts to change the narrative surrounding Sheffield United’s season.
In an effort to prevent defeats by Middlesbrough and AFC Bournemouth prompting another round of discussion about the toll last term’s relegation from the Premier League has taken upon Bramall Lane’s first team squad, Jokanovic insisted there are signs it is equipped to move into top six contention over the coming months.
His words echo those of defender George Baldock, who earlier this week revealed he is convinced United will return to the top-flight under Jokanovic’s command because of the manager’s “knowledge” and “attention to detail”.
Asked to describe his agenda during the international break, Jokanovic told The Star: “The story needs to change. Before the last (break) we were talking about desire, which has never been in doubt for me, without creation. Now we are creating things. That is also not in doubt, or that the desire is still there too.
“So we want to make improvements during this break. We must look to build on that and make sure it becomes even better. The story needs to change, of that I am sure. And it will.”
Despite acknowledging United’s results on Teesside and in Dorset were “steps back” after ending a five match unbeaten run, Jokanovic insisted their performance against Scott Parker’s men in particular confirmed progress is being made. United took the lead at the Vitality Stadium through the on-loan Morgan Gibbs-White before an incorrectly awarded penalty saw Dominic Solanke level from the spot. Jokanovic’s frustration at that decision was compounded when Philip Billing grabbed what proved to be the winner soon after, with the Serb later inisting an offside flag should have been raised during the build-up.
“Let’s be brave and work hard,” he said. “We must work in the break and stay with the players. We can use it, the break, to fix the situation.
“I don’t want to see a game like that (Bournemouth) again, because of certain things I would like to talk about but won’t because it would be expensive and I like to try and show respect.”
“There are things we need to work on but, from another aspect the team has shown that it trusts we are going in a good direction and that it wants to play the kind of game we are playing,” Jokanovic continued. “The team will find the benefit of that. For me, it is not enough. But I am encouraged by what is ahead of us.”
Baldock, who suffered a suspected hamstring injury during the loss at the Vitality Stadium, is scheduled to be assessed by medical staff when he returns to United’s training complex next week before a decision is taken on his involvement against City. Midfielder Sander Berge is also receiving treatment, with Jokanovic hopeful he will be declared available for selection soon.
“There always exists space to improve,” Jokanovic said. “We will try and make it a completely good break. There is nothing specific to improve. We want to improve in all areas.”