Slavisa Jokanovic’s to-do list at Sheffield United, lessons from last summer
When Slavisa Jokanovic takes her seat in the principal’s office in Bramall Lane in a month’s time, there will be plenty of items in her bin requiring her attention.
The 52-year-old will not start working until July 1, the expiry date of his contract with current club Al Gharafa, but he will be eager to get down to work preparing his new side for promotion to the Premier League. next season.
Here are some of the things that await the Serbian when he arrives at Sheffield United, the main one being the need to learn from last season’s lessons in terms of preparation.
Finalize its technical staff
Jokanovic has been given the green light to reshape the backstage team the way he likes it.
There will be a number of roles to be filled and many of his former colleagues are scattered across the world in various positions.
It might not be easy to get them early depending on where they are elsewhere, but he’ll make sure they’re in place when players return to Shirecliffe.
It goes without saying that the club’s pre-season away trip and friendlies will need to be finalized.
Normally arranged at the moment, United have yet to finalize their plans.
Paul Heckingbottom had a number of pre-season options in place, with three alternatives, including two away from home. Jokanovic will have to choose the one that best suits his plans and organize friendly matches around those dates.
United were not prepared for this season, with a last minute race to Scotland due to Covid hampered by the weather. It will be important to sort this out in his first week.
Early transfer company
Getting his new hires early will be a top priority.
With so much to do on the training ground to get his fast attacking style through, he’ll want the team settled ASAP.
The squad doesn’t need a revamp, but needs a refresh with the arrival of new faces that can go straight into the first XI. The midfielder is the priority department.
United are looking to tap the loan market this season to bring Premier League quality to bolster a squad that already has a wealth of experience at this level.
The club’s recruiting team has been busy compiling a list of goals available for loan and getting them early will be key to a successful start.
Business last summer went on late in the window and only two goalkeepers had arrived by the time United traveled to Edinburgh.
Restore trust levels and team identity
After suffering 29 losses, it goes without saying that he needs to lift a dressing room that hasn’t tasted much of victory in the past 12 months.
So many players fell below the levels they set for themselves in previous seasons, United were the shadow of the squad we used to see.
The conceding of light goals, the cheap turnover of possession and the absence of an attacking threat had become familiar traits from last season. The team needs to regain its identity and Jokanovic’s attacking accent will help.
He has the personality to raise the standards in the dressing room and with United likely to enjoy possession in the league a lot more, it will suit his attacking style.
Team decisions and redesign
Most of his time during those first few weeks in the role will be spent evaluating the team and making decisions about who stays and who leaves as part of a reshuffle and better training at to play.
Jokanovic is considered a 4-3-3 manager but has switched between 3-5-2 and 4-3-1-2 at Watford. He will work with the majority of the players he inherits and there will be no major overhaul of the playing staff.
He will evaluate the players to start with to determine the best form with a team that has been brought in to fit into a 3-5-2 system. Once that’s been determined, his team shuffle will begin to take place.
There are a number of players who need a decision on their future. From those coming back from ready, to four left-backs and a strike force of seven men who need to be trimmed, there are plenty of areas that need his attention.
Connect with the fans
The fan base has drifted over the past 12 months due to United’s downfall and the loss of one of their own in Chris Wilder.
One of the main strengths of the trip under Wilder from League One to the Premier League was the relationship between players and supporters.
Losing that while playing behind closed doors has really affected this team and having that relationship again will be key to helping these players get back into shape.
The first signs are good and his arrival has certainly led to a more positive air around the club. With fans returning to the stadium next season, Jokanovic’s attacking football brand can hopefully banish the negativity of the past 12 months and rock Bramall Lane once again.
Learn from last season
The need to move forward is vital.
United saw what happened last season as not preparing for the next campaign turned out to be costly.
Not only will the newcomers have to walk through the door and the club ready to go, but a winning start might be all this team needs.
We saw what happened to this team when the hiatus from football last March gained momentum and fans.
These players have thrived on that support and although the loser mentality stems from playing in the Premier League, a positive start to August could allay any lingering fears of a hangover.
Early victories and good fan relations once again and there will be no hindrance to these players.