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‘It was hard and still is’ – Ben Osborn reveals Slavisa Jokanovic talks at Sheffield United

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Sheffield United winger Ben Osborn has revealed he told manager Slavisa Jokanovic he would be more of use in an advanced role this season, also stating his preference to stick to a specialist position at this stage of his career as he spoke to The Star.

The 27-year-old has operated in several different positions during his career, playing as a full-back, a winger, a forward and also plying his trade more centrally in midfield as a versatile asset for former side Nottingham Forest and the Blades.

Under current boss Jokanovic though, he has mainly stuck to one position as a left-winger this season and has seemingly benefitted from it, recording three goals and two assists in 15 Championship games this term and looking like a real threat out wide in the 4-2-3-1 system.

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This was a position he hadn’t been used to at Bramall Lane until this season, playing under Chris Wilder from his arrival until March this year and sticking with the 5-3-2 system, with no need for advanced wide men under the 54-year-old.

With much of the current squad spending so long under Wilder in South Yorkshire, the change in system adopted by his permanent successor Jokanovic has caused teething problems in the early stages of this campaign, though the Serbian remains stubborn on making it work.

This will be music to Osborn’s ears, who revealed to the Sheffield Star he would prefer to play in one set position despite his versatility and made this intention very clear to his current manager.

He said: “He (Jokanovic) had seen towards the back end of the Premier League season under Paul Heckingbottom, when I played behind the striker or to the left or the right, and played some of my best football.

“I said to him that there are other players that I thought are better in other positions and if he wanted me to help the team more, I thought it’d be better to play a bit further forward.

“I was honest with him, I think he agreed and trusted me with it. Thankfully I’ve put in some alright performances since he’s played me higher up the pitch.

“When you’re younger it’s fine (to play in different positions), because you’re happy to play anywhere and help the team.

“But as I’ve got older, I’d play well in one position and the next week I’d be playing somewhere totally different. So I never know what to work on to improve myself.

“It was hard and still is. I’m still happy to do a job anywhere but if people want to get the best out of me, then I had to let my stance be known.”

The Verdict:

Osborn makes a good point about continuously switching positions. Using a versatile player like the 27-year-old in multiple roles may be good for the manager, but it isn’t beneficial for the development of the player overall who would ideally want to stick to one position and master it.

Being unpredictable could be a useful tool in Jokanovic’s armoury going forward, because he will need all the help he can get if he wants to elevate his side into the top six in the next few months. But there also needs to be consistency in their starting lineup if they want consistency in their results.

Not only does this mean picking one system and sticking with it, but also keeping a reasonably settled lineup in terms of personnel and there are already a couple of names that deserve to be on the teamsheet every week.

Morgan-Gibbs White is one of those players after establishing himself as one of the biggest attacking threats in the Championship, with Chris Basham and Billy Sharp also arguably deserving a starting spot in the lineup.

The blend of youth and experience should serve the Blades well – and with Osborn’s coaching exploits – he certainly has a footballing mind well beyond his years and will be another precious asset in their quest for promotion.


A 21-year-old Reading FC fan and writer who graduated from the University for the Creative Arts in the summer with a degree in Journalism and Media Production. Other topics written about include politics, mental health and education.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: ‘It was hard and still is’ – Ben Osborn reveals Slavisa Jokanovic talks at Sheffield United

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