Sheffield United's owners have a big task on their hands and it won't be cheap - Alan Biggs

There’s a terrible tendency to rubbish and write off players when teams are in need of a facelift.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 7:18 am

That process is becoming increasingly inevitable at Sheffield United, despite the midweek win at Reading that keeps us tantalised. But it needs to come with respect from outside the club and realism on the inside.

I’m not sure either applies as it should at this moment.

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Slavisa Jokanovic watches his players in action against Reading: David Klein / Sportimage

It’s one thing to replace players who have served you well in the past and another to do it successfully.

It’s only when you look back and acknowledge what United’s older guard has achieved that you can accurately gauge the scale of the task.

There’s an awful lot to live up to. And that’s why Prince Abdullah’s seemingly stretched regime has a mighty challenge on its hands; certainly one that won’t be cheap.

Do they have the will and the wherewithal to satisfy Slavisa Jokanovic? Certainly the manager must have had his reasons to go strategically early in publicly posting his January wish for two wingers and a midfielder.

A lot of push was required before it came to shove in the last window.

Much as this season has been a story of under-achievement, some perspective is needed; some understanding of what a shift of managers can do to the individual and the collective.

Some appreciation also that to replace players who have accomplished so much - including a rise from League One to ninth in the Premier League - will not be easy.

The churlish claim that Jokanovic’s predecessor is to blame for the club being endangered by stagnation lacks proof that this would still have been the case under the previous close-knit status quo.

That said, I think the core of this squad would be running its course regardless heading towards next summer. It’s just that the jarring effect of change has brought judgment much closer.

But you can’t dismiss what these players have achieved. Certainly Coventry’s high-riding boss Mark Robins didn’t in gladly accepting a point at the Lane last weekend.

Beyond that, a spark is missing. You can’t see it being kindled without an injection of high calibre newcomers in the New Year.

These are critical times for the future direction of the club. United can stick in there with a promotion shout by beating Bristol City on Sunday but that won’t disguise the task the board, rather than just Jokanovic, has on its hands.