Sheffield United were unable to revive their Championship season yesterday afternoon as they drew 0-0 against high-flyers Coventry City, failing to capitalise on their home advantage.
This may be a respectable result on paper considering where the two sides currently stand in the table, but one point isn’t enough for a side that are currently struggling in the bottom half of the second tier and desperately need to start getting wins on the board if they are to mount any sort of promotion push.
Unfortunately, they were unable to present a real threat against the Sky Blues until the final stages of the game, leaving it too late to win all three points and blowing yet another chance to get their 2021/22 campaign back on track.
Quiz: Have Sheffield United ever won an away game at each of these 20 stadiums?
The Blades made four changes for this one, with Robin Olsen being forced to make way for Wes Foderingham after suffering a rib injury, Ben Osborn left out in favour of Ben Davies, Conor Hourihane replacing Oliver Norwood and Iliman Ndiaye coming in for Rhian Brewster.
Despite this alteration in personnel and change in system, it was the same old story for the South Yorkshire outfit who are now winless in their last four going into Tuesday night’s tie against Sheffield United.
Looking back on yesterday’s game though, we have picked out three things we learnt about United after their score draw.
Jokanovic isn’t afraid of switching up his system
Judging from his comments before the Blackburn Rovers tie prior to the international break, it sounded as though manager Slavisa Jokanovic was going to be stubborn and stick with the 4-2-3-1 system he has adopted for much of the 2021/22 campaign.
Ex-Blades Paddy Kenny also identified the frustration of many of their players going away on international duty as one reason why the Serbian would face difficulty in implementing tactical ideas, potentially persuading the 53-year-old to remain with a flat back four.
But he mixed things up and reverted to a back three in what could be seen as a surprise move, with the likes of Chris Basham, John Egan, Enda Stevens, Jayden Bogle, John Fleck and Billy Sharp all being accustomed to a similar setup under former boss Chris Wilder.
Whether this change was a desperate attempt to get three points on the board and save his job is unknown, though he did have an extended amount of time on the training ground to work on a changed system during the international interval.
It will be interesting to see whether Jokanovic sticks with the same formation, and if so, whether it proves to be successful for the second-tier side.
Basham should remain at the club
Football League World understands former boss Wilder is interested in reuniting with Blades centre-back Chris Basham at new club Middlesbrough, ending a successful seven-and-a-half years at United if he moves on in January.
Key in the club’s rise from League One to the Premier League, he has shown his prowess again in recent games and has re-established himself as a regular starter, helping his side keep a clean sheet yesterday alongside Davies and Egan with an accomplished all-round performance.
Continuing to impress fans in Yorkshire, it would be a real shock if the 33-year-old was allowed to leave the club in January after impressing so much, though TEAMtalk are reporting the club wouldn’t stand in his way if he wished to make the move north, on the condition a suitable offer came in.
Considering his age, their Championship rivals are unlikely to submit a huge seven-figure for his services, so officials at Bramall Lane should be looking to retain him, and potentially engage in negotiations regarding a possible one-year extension with the veteran’s contract running out in the summer.
Olsen should be worried about his starting spot
In the summer, there was a clear desire to replace Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsdale and rightly so, because they deserved to recruit a solid replacement with the initial £24m they generated for the England international’s services.
Wes Foderingham and Michael Verrips were both given the chance to impress during the period between Ramsdale’s sale and Robin Olsen’s arrival on deadline day, with the former doing himself the must justice with his assured performances.
In Olsen’s absence today, he picked up from where he left off and put in a solid performance between the sticks, and has actually drawn more praise from United fans than the Swedish international has so far this term.
With the 31-year-old loanee enduring a difficult time in the second tier thus far, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him return to the bench before coming back into the starting lineup again, especially if Foderingham can continue to be reliable.