Luton Town v Sheffield United: Experience helping Billy Sharp be the leading man for the Blades

In an era when English football is home to many of the world’s best managers, sometimes players do not get enough credit.

“There are times when I want to scream (instructions) but at the last second it’s the player’s decision and this why football is beautiful because the right decision makes the people around you say, ‘Wow! How clever he is, how good he is,’” says Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic.

As footballers get older, the queue of people looking to write them off tends to get longer. Billy Sharp has probably been under-estimated more than most.

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“People say I’m fat and slow but I know I’m not,” says a centre-forward who has always had a God-given gift for putting footballs into nets.

STAYING SHARP: Sheffield United's Billy Sharp. Picture: Alistair Langham / Sportimage

Twice in the last week he served reminders he is not going anywhere soon with goals from off the bench. Jokanovic will be hard pushed not to pick him at Luton Town today because Sharp is... sharp, his brain improving far more than his body is slowing.

“You watch football, you take things from it,” explains the 35-year-old. “You’ve got analysts in your football club and you try and work on things that you’re not quite doing well at and the things you’re doing very well at.

“You can work on finishing but you have to study the game and the areas of the pitch where the ball’s going to come. In between the posts, between four and eight yards (out), is where the goals are going to come from. That’s where I like to go.”

In an era when some players feel over-coached, the ability to think for oneself is priceless.

MUCH NEEDED: Sheffield United recorded a victory over Derby County in the League Cup in midweek. Picture: Alistair Langham / Sportimage

“You can have a gameplan, you can watch games as a sub but when you go on it can be totally different,” argues Sharp. “It isn’t a game of chess where you can take your time, you’ve got to make quick decisions.

“Kevin Blackwell used to tell me to run around or I’d be off the pitch so I ran around like an absolute idiot but now I run around when I think I’m going to get the ball and save my energy.

“You grow up, you get older, you get more experience and it helps you along the way.”

At a club with eight senior strikers, none is as clever a finisher as Billy Sharp.

Max Lowe has joined Nottingham Forest on a season-long loan.