Where Sheffield United really should be in the Championship table right now

After calculating that lapses in concentration have cost his team at least seven points this season, manager Slavisa Jokanovic could be forgiven for ordering Sheffield United’s players to spend some time on the club psychologist’s couch ahead of their meeting with AFC Bournemouth.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 4:00 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd October 2021, 7:02 am

But the Serb has chosen to adopt a more unorthodox approach towards improving his squad’s attentiveness, telling The Star he will instead use a combination of training ground drills and reminders about their recent upturn in results to overcome what coaching staff believe is the final obstacle standing between United and a push for promotion.

“I have the sensation that we are now starting to trust in ourselves more,” Jokanovic said. “We are trusting more in each other as players and more in the process, more in the way we are going about our work.

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“As that trust improves then, for me, that is how you can improve focus. That is why we do the work in the week that we do - to make sure everything trusts in what they are doing, everyone understands what they are doing and then, when the stress comes, that helps you stay calm and focused. Because you trust in the process.”

United have prepared for tomorrow’s contest with Scott Parker’s side ranked 13th in the table, after taking 10 points from their last five Championship outings and scoring 12 goals in the process. However, citing errors during their draws with Swansea City and Preston North End as incidents when victories have been thrown away, together with the added time winner they conceded during last month’s match against Huddersfield Town, Jokanovic believes they should be travelling to Dorset in fourth or fifth; a point behind third placed Fulham.

Acknowledging he inherited a side still bearing the mental scars of its relegation from the Premier League last term when he took charge in July, the 53-year-old added: “We have shown the clean minds we need lately, and personality too. But we can still improve and one of those ways is focus.

George Baldock (right) will make his 150th appearance for Sheffield United on Saturday. Alistair Langham / Sportimage

“We will be telling everyone that, what has happened, it shows the process works. But also that we must still improve and carry it on.”