Why Sheffield United boss had flashbacks to West Brom defeat in 2-0 loss to Middlesbrough

Slavisa Jokanović had flashbacks to Sheffield United’s heavy defeat at West Bromwich Albion during Tuesday night’s defeat at Middlesbrough, after admitting his side “struggled” with the physical challenge Boro posed in their 2-0 victory at the Riverside.

Slavisa Jokanovic manager of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage
Slavisa Jokanovic manager of Sheffield United: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Jokanović’s Blades travelled to the Riverside unbeaten in five games, but had their resurgence checked by a fired-up Boro side managed by one of the Serb’s predecessors, Neil Warnock.

Goals from Duncan Watmore and Paddy McNair saw Boro take all three points on a below-par evening for the Blades, who went closest to getting back into the game when youngster Iliman Ndiaye hit the post.

David McGoldrick forced a superb save from Joe Lumley after coming off the bench on his return from injury, and United must pick themselves up quickly before they travel to second-placed Bournemouth this weekend.

“I am always unsatisfied after a defeat,” Jokanović said.

“I cannot be happy, but I cannot be surprised either. We know the competition is complicated and what can happen in games.

“Coming here [to Boro] on a Tuesday night is uncomfortable and we found it uncomfortable.

“There is always an opposite team and they did their job very well.

“To try and fight for an important target you must be ready for a different challenge and this type of game reminded me of the West Bromwich game, when we were struggling with the physical challenge [and were beaten 4-0].

“I don’t think we’ve made a lot of steps backwards, we know it wasn’t good enough and we’ll be ready for the next challenge. In this competition and sport, some steps may be backwards.

“We didn’t do our job good enough, but be positive and in three days we will be in front of another chance to win the points.”

Warnock, who spent almost eight years in charge at Bramall Lane and led his boyhood club into the Premiership before leaving following their relegation in 2007, described United as “a good side” and repeated his backing of Jokanović, a man he believes was the perfect appointment to replace Chris Wilder at the helm when he was unveiled in the summer.