Slavisa Jokanovic refusing to panic and asks Sheffield United fans to ‘trust us’

IN comparison to the form of fellow relegated sides Fulham and West Brom, Sheffield United’s Championship statistics so far in 2021-22 do not make for particularly great reading.

While the aforesaid duo are making a strong and compelling case to suggest that they will be right in the mix for automatic promotion at the business end of the season, Slavisa Jokanovic’s Blades are comfortably off the pace with a play-off spot looking likely to be the apex of their ambitions.

The Serb is keeping calm and with good reason, more importantly. The Fulham side he managed in 2017-18 were in lower mid-table at this stage of that campaign and would go onto be promoted at Wembley and all is not lost for his United side yet either. Not by a long chalk.

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That said, Jokanovic can understand the current frustration among the club’s supporters in an opening third of the season which has seen them win back to back league games just once.

Slavisa Jokanovic, manager of Sheffield United. Picture: Simon Bellis / Sportimage

Costly late concessions in three of the club’s last four matches, which have seen valuable points fritter away, have added to the irritation.

But in a season which always had the makings of not being a straightforward one, with Jokanovic ushering in a new way of playing, both in terms of style and shape, it is about a collective holding of nerve at this stage.

As one former Blades manager in Steve Bruce once wisely opined, it does not particularly matter where you are in the table in the early part of the season, but when the “daffodils come up” ahead of the run-in from March onwards.

Jokanovic, whose side were pegged back in a 1-1 draw at Nottingham Forest in midweek, said: “Unfortunately, after a bad result, there is not a lot of space for positive things.

“It is whether the bottle is half-empty or half-full and we must be calm and competitive and improve ourselves.

“Of course, we are not satisfied with what we are offering our supporters (consistently). We have a lot of support at Bramall Lane and the away games and we are all frustrated because we cannot make them more satisfied than they are at the moment.

“But now is the moment to trust us and not say we are in the wrong way. We are in a good way, but are not doing enough good work.

“We cannot stop and say: ‘Now we need a revolution’ and do something completely opposite and different. We will try and find a solution with the way we are playing football at the moment.”

The last thing that Jokanovic is pledging to do is deviate from his approach or get side-tracked by things he cannot control either – whether that be criticism from supporters or displeasure from them towards the club’s hierarchy regarding player recruitment and transfer funds.

He views it as counterproductive and a waste of his energy and in terms of his own methods, he fully trusts them and why shouldn’t he, given his previous successes at this level with Fulham and Watford.

Jokanovic added: “I must be calm and I am not panicking and know what my team needs and will not go in some way which I cannot find any benefit for me.

“I am working here (now) like I will stay for the next 20 years; what will happen tomorrow I do not especially care.

“I am focused on managing my team and about working with my team.

“When it is time, I am looking to the market and improving the team (in January).

“But I will not spend time on what is not under my control and I do not have the intention to spend time on that.

“I am not in this job to be worried about this situation. I believe I can grow my prestige with this club and players.”

Defender Ben Davies is suffering from a virus and will miss Saturday’s game at Blackburn Rovers, while midfielder Adlene Guedioura will be out until the New Year following ankle surgery.