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Paddy Kenny identifies detrimental factor in potential Sheffield United tactical rethink



Former Sheffield United goalkeeper Paddy Kenny believes this interval with several players linking up with national sides will hinder tactical tweaks Slavisa Jokanovic may want to work on in training, speaking to Football Insider.

Two key defenders in John Egan and Enda Stevens joined the Republic of Ireland squad for their last two World Cup qualifiers against Portugal and Luxembourg along with loanee Conor Hourihane, with Robert Olsen and Rhian Brewster being called up to the Sweden and England Under-21s squads respectively as they look to boost their international credentials further.

The former two in Egan and Stevens are particularly vital to the Blades as two of the first names on the teamsheet under manager Jokanovic, but being part of a defence that has only managed to keep just three clean sheets in their opening 17 league games of the 2021/22 campaign.

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This record has summed up the South Yorkshire outfit’s season as a whole so far this term, recording just five Championship wins in 2021/22 and currently sitting in 18th place after going winless in their last three games.

For a side that were only relegated from the Premier League at the end of last term, their start has been something of a shock under a promotion-winning manager, although the change from a back three to a four was always going to cause teething problems having been accustomed to Chris Wilder’s system for so long before his departure in March earlier this year.

With this, an extended period of time on the training ground with Jokanovic could be crucial in turning their season around, something their international players won’t have the luxury of as they return just a few days before their upcoming tie against high-flyers Coventry City.

One man that believes this could cause real difficulties is ex-Blade Kenny, who said to Football Insider: “The international break won’t have helped because he’s had less time to sort things out.

“Once these players come back, they will only get two or three days and then they’ll be straight back into a match.

“That doesn’t give him any chance to work on tactical stuff. All the players who have gone away played against Blackburn and were disappointing.

“It will make things a lot harder, I’m sure. They are some of the players who need the most coaching and they aren’t around for it.”

The Verdict:

Kenny has a real point. Having this latest international break has given Jokanovic and the players one last chance to reset and start again before a busy winter period – but the likes of Egan and Stevens won’t have had the benefit of this after jetting away to link up with Ireland.

Unfortunately for the Blades, Stevens’ main competitor at left-back in Rhys Norrington-Davies is also on international duty at the moment, not allowing the Serbian to drop the former for the latter had the Welshman not been called up to Rob Page’s squad.

The duo might be vital first-team players, but team cohesion has to come above individual quality and this is why Brewster should be left out in favour of others who have been training in South Yorkshire for the past week or so, even after breaking his league duck for United at Blackburn Rovers last time out.

With these key first-teamers away from the club, the Blades’ boss may be forced to revert back to utilising three central defenders, a system that their players would probably be more comfortable operating in at this moment in time.

But 53-year-old Jokanovic seems intent on sticking with a back four – and this stubbornness may either prove to be successful in the long term or disastrous if results worsen further. With his previous promotion-winning experience though, he deserves to have full faith in his current system.

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: Paddy Kenny identifies detrimental factor in potential Sheffield United tactical rethink

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