Sheffield United forward Billy Sharp has confessed that the Blades’ squad is more comfortable operating with a back three and he believes they can now push up the table under Paul Heckingbottom
Salvisa Jokanovic’s time in charge of Sheffield United was brought to an end last week despite the Blades picking up what was a much-needed 1-0 win against Reading on Tuesday. The Serbian though in general had not picked up enough points or victories to get his side competing towards the top end of the division and he left them in the bottom half of the league table.
Heckingbottom has been handed the chance to take over from Jokanovic and he managed to get off to a perfect start with the Blades securing a 2-0 victory against Bristol City on Sunday.
It was a much better all-around performance and the energy levels were far better. The way that they approached the game was also improved with them reverting back towards the sort of tactics and setup that worked so well under Chris Wilder.
Sharp managed to come off the bench to grab the late second goal to wrap up the three points for Sheffield United against Bristol City, with Rhian Brewster already having grabbed his second goal of the campaign in the first half to give the Blades the lead. That shows that Heckingbottom can potentially unlock more from the attacking options he has than Jokanovic was able to do.
Speaking to BBC Sheffield, Sharp suggested that Sheffield United’s squad are more comfortable operating in a back three and also insisted that they have more than enough quality to now be able to climb the table following the win against Bristol City.
He said: ”We are more comfortable in that formation (3-5-2). We tried it under him (SJ). Whatever formation we’ve played this season we’ve not been good enough. So hopefully this last week is the start of a push for us because we are more than capable of climbing the table.”
From these comments, it is clear to see things were not going to work out for Jokanovic at Sheffield United and why he was not able to get more out of the squad during his time in charge. There were plenty of issues with player recruitment during the summer, but on paper, it always seemed like the Blades were underperforming this term with the quality available in the squad.
There is only ever so much a manager can do in and around the training ground, but Jokanovic did not seem convinced over starting with more of a 3-5-2 and that did not help him get the best out of the players that were available to him. That in the end did play a major role in Sheffield United’s lack of consistency under the Serbian.
Heckingbottom has shown that he can get more from the squad in his first game against Bristol City, he now needs the experienced players like Sharp to insist that standards do not drop in training. If that can happen then the Blades might be able to climb the table under Heckingbottom and push closer towards the top-six in the rest of the campaign.