Sheffield United lack tools for jobs Slavisa Jokanovic has in mind

Slavisa Jokanovic is trying to play different formations at Sheffield United, the problem is, he has a squad built for only one - one he is not playing. He needs new faces to give himself different options.

Without them, he lost his first game in charge 1-0 to Birmingham City. Had he only had a left-back, things could have been different.

The Blades kicked off their first game back in the Championship playing a regulation 4-3-3 but very quickly changed to a 4-3-1-2 which gave David McGoldrick more licence to roam as he likes to. Midway through the second half he had been switched to the right of a 4-4-2, with John Fleck on the left. Midway through the second half they went to 4-2-3-1.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

McGoldrick and Fleck are not wingers or wide midfielders, whatever you want to call them. Chris Wilder did not really bother with them because when you play 3-5-2 every week - or even 3-4-1-2 in the Championship - there is no call for them. Likewise, there is no need for full-backs.

FRUSTRATION: Sheffield United's Oliver Norwood

With Enda Stevens's season delayed by injury, the Blades could have really done with a left-back to come in for him. Instead the ever-willing midfielder Ben Osborn filled in there.

The game was 19 minutes old when the hosts paid the price.

Birmingham had been quickest out of the blocks but a home team cheered on by 29,043 fans who had forgiven them last season's tame relegation to get behind them in the Championship quickly took hold. So when Blues opened the scoring, it came as a bit of a surprise.

When Jeremie Bela whipped a well-delivered but slightly hopeful cross in from the left right-back Maxime Colin attacked it lke a centre-forward sniffing a goal. The problem was, Osborn did not look like a full-back either, not sure where he should be facing or what he should be doing as Colin powered above him to thud home his header.

In the end it decided the game, although there were other moments at either end which could have ennsured it did not.

The Blades did not wallow in their misfortune, Oliver Burke very quickly running down the other end of the field onto a Sander Berge pass and smashing a shot against the post with debutant goalkeeper Matija Sarkic's body touching it on the way.

Lys Mousset flashed a shot wide. George Baldock came inside and had a shot blocked but Burke's effort was wild. When Fleck opened himself up to convert a left-wing cross, Colin got in the way of his strike and Osborn was unable to keep a difficult half-volley down.

You could have forgiven Sarkic for appealing for a Sheffield United corner rather than a goalkick at the end of the half as Oliver Norwood carried the ball to within range and fizzed a shot which, replays shown, was only diverted narrowly wide by a little bit of goalkeeping glove.

Without being exceptional, the Blades were playing well enough to be in front at half-time but as so often last season, they were getting the little details wrong and it was costing them.

They wobbled badly for a period in the second half, unable to deal with crosses sent over to Osborn's side of the field.

Lukas Jutkiewicz headed wide as he bundled past Jack Robinson and Colin had a goal disallowed when the striker needless pushed Osborn as the right-back arrived in far too much space onto another Bela delivery.

Jutkiewicz presented strike partner Scott Hogan with an excellent chance but the former Blades loanee made a hash of his volley, spooning it off target.

The hosts got themselves together and had two penalty appeals in quick succession. The first looked harsh on Gary Gardner, whose arm was pretty close to his body when Fleck hit a full-blooded shot at it. Tim Robinson was certainly sympathetic.

But when Berge surged down the right a minute later Thaith Chong tried to hold his hand and pulled him down. It looked innocuous to the naked eye, less so to the television replay. Still Robinson was not having it.

Despite following the Wilder tactic of throwing on strikers, despite tactical tinkering, despite Berge's occasional surges down the right and the free-kicks and set-pieces they earned, the Blades could not equalise.

With 24 days f transfer trading yet, their new manager does not have the tools for the jobs he wants to do.

Sheffield United: Ramsdale; Baldock, Egan, Robinson, Osborn; Berge, Norwood, Fleck (Sharp 68); Mousset (Brewster 53), McGoldrick, Burke (McBurnie 80).

Unused substitutes: Basham, Freeman, Bogle, Verrips.

Birmingham City: Sarkic; Colin, Dean, Roberts, Pedersen; Bela, Gardner, Woods, Chong (Sunjic 73); Hogan (Leko 68), Jutkiewicz.

Unused substitutes: Friend, Aneke, Sanchez, Castill, Trueman.

Referee: T Robinson (West Sussex).