Fulham's remarkable 5-4 win at Sheffield United gives Blades fans a taste of what to expect from new boss Slavisa Jokanovic
Any Sheffield United fan still unaware of, or unconvinced by, new manager Slavisa Jokanović’s credentials need only to cast their mind back to November 2017 for possibly the definitive answer.
In one of the most remarkable games of football seen at Bramall Lane in some years, Jokanović’s Fulham rocked up in South Yorkshire without a win in six games and floundering somewhat in 17th place in the Championship.
United, though, were flying and could have gone top of the table with victory. It wasn’t to be, though, as Fulham returned down south with all three points after running out 5-4 winners.
“A lot of Sheffield United players now played in this game,” Jokanović remembered after being appointed as the Blades’ new boss.
“Even though United lost the game, I hope the fans enjoyed it. Bramall Lane is a fantastic place to play football.
“I am sure, with supporters in the stands, it will be a different team. It’s a fantastic place to play the game.”
It was certainly rocking on the evening of November 21 that season as Leon Clarke, in such fine form that season in particular, put United ahead. But Liverpool loanee Sheyi Ojo equalised for Fulham when he took advantage of Cameron Carter-Vickers’ poor backpass, and the visitors went ahead when Ryan Sessegnon curled home on his weaker right foot from outside the box.
United rallied to level, Clarke beating Tim Ream with a stepover before finishing with a neat finish of his own on his left foot, before Sessegnon was afforded the freedom of Sheffield to tap home Ojo’s cross from close range for 3-2.
It was four in slightly more fortuitous fashion in the second half, Ojo’s shot deflecting off the boot of Richard Stearman and wrongfooting Jamal Blackman, and Sessegnon completed his hat-trick for 5-2 with a neat finish after being found by one Oliver Norwood in the Fulham midfield.
United were given a glimmer of hope when Samir Carruthers’ run and shot saw the ball deflected past David Button in the Fulham goal, and Clarke headed home in injury time to complete his hat-trick and set up a nervy last few moments.
But an equaliser wasn’t to come and as all at Bramall Lane took a moment to consider what they had just witnessed at the final whistle, Fulham’s players dropped to the turf in exhaustion.
"I remember thinking: "Thank God that's over'," Norwood, speaking in the book 'We're not going to Wembley' which charted United's promotion to the Premier League, remembered.
"I was knackered. [United] just kept going and never gave up. I think it was 5-2 at one point? If the game had carried on for a bit longer, it might have been 7-6 or 8-7 or something.
"It was an incredible night; one of my most memorable games in football. It had everything.”
That night at Bramall Lane catapulted Jokanović, Norwood and Fulham to promotion, earned via the play-offs at the end of the season after beating Aston Villa at Wembley.
If past evidence is anything to go by, there may be some more eventful nights at Bramall Lane to come under the Blades’ new boss.