Former Sheffield United striker Carl Asaba believes Sheffield United will be in the Premier League within the next two years because of the expertise of manager Slavisa Jokanovic, delivering this bold verdict to The Star.
Appearing as one of the strongest squads in the Championship after their relegation from the top flight, the appointment of Serbian Jokanovic was seen as a huge coup by many, having seen the 53-year-old guide Watford and Fulham to promotion in the past.
However, the summer proved to be a difficult one for the Blades, who had failed to recruit more than one player before the final few days of the transfer window and lost star goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale to Arsenal despite him reportedly preparing to reiterate his commitment to the South Yorkshire side.
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They did manage to keep hold of Sander Berge though after refusing to accept anything less than his £35m release clause – but their early-season form suffered without new additions and won just two points from a possible 15 in their opening five league games of 2021/22.
Their form took an upturn after the international break when they were able to introduce late-summer arrivals Morgan Gibbs-White, Conor Hourihane and Robin Olsen into the fold – but have hit a barrier since with consecutive losses against Middlesbrough and AFC Bournemouth in their last two games.
This has left the former promotion favourites in a disappointing 14th place, but Carl Asaba is optimistic about the Blades’ chances under a manager of Jokanovic’s calibre and thinks they will be back in the Premier League next season or the season after.
He said: “This manager is taking us up, no doubt about it.
“Be it this season or next season, you know it’s going to happen. Why? Because he’s a winner, pure and simple.
“Some people don’t like the fact he goes straight down the tunnel after a good result, rather than acknowledging the crowd.
“But that’s because he wants to give them three points rather than a wave. And, for me, that’s brilliant, that’s totally what I want.”
Considering they are only six points off the top six, you can rule nothing other so it would be no surprise to see them still be promoted back to the Premier League this term.
Only two things can stop them: the trio of Fulham, AFC Bournemouth and West Brom and their lack of wingers. They were reportedly pushing for Harvey Elliott and Amad Diallo before failing to land Alex Collado from Barcelona, so you know the main position the Blades will be targeting when January comes around.
They are still lacking depth in a couple of areas including that wing position, with another central defender potentially needed after seeing Jack O’Connell ruled out for the foreseeable future with his long-term knee injury.
It’s clear they have players who can take them back to the Premier League though. The backline of Enda Stevens, John Egan, Ben Davies and George Baldock are capable, the midfield duo of Conor Hourihane and Sander Berge will prove to be too much for many Championship sides, Morgan Gibbs-White will continue to be a vital asset and they have plenty of depth in the forward department.
You could also look at the forward area as being a problematic area though. Although Billy Sharp is in fine form, the likes of Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster aren’t in good form and it remains to be seen how long Lys Mousset can remain fit on his return.
Promotion isn’t out of the question, but there’s a lot of work to be done.