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Slavisa Jokanovic explains controversial Sheffield United player call

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Sheffield United boss Slavisa Jokanovic has explained his decision to leave Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie on the bench on Tuesday night against Middlesbrough, despite his side chasing a goal to get back into the game. 

Billy Sharp, understandably, led the line for the Blades having enjoyed a decent run of form heading into the fixture.

However, the Blades were 2-0 down against Boro in the opening 45 minutes, searching for a goal to get back into the game.

Despite having Brewster and McBurnie on the bench, Jokanovic persisted with Sharp, bringing Conor Hourihane and David McGoldrick off the bench, as well as Rhys Norrington-Davies.

Defending his decision, Jokanovic explained (via The Star): “At the moment we have chosen how we want to play, they need to trust and work hard and wait for the moment when I need them, and they must be ready for this moment.

“It is my decision who I choose, I tried to make some movement and find a way to come back in the game so I made the decision to use some players. I thought about McBurnie and Rhian but I took a different option, but I could use them in games ahead of us.”

Despite not using Brewster or McBurnie against Boro, Jokanovic suggested their involvement might just be around the corner, insisting he’s working with a squad rather than 11 players.

He continued: “I am not coaching only 11 players. The questions are normal but I must take my decision for games ahead of us, we will take what we believe is the best decision for the team.”

Defeat at Boro was Sheffield United’s first since the September international break. They travel to the South Coast on Saturday to face AFC Bournemouth.

The Verdict

It was interesting to see Jokanovic completely overlook two strikers on Tuesday night who could have got him a goal.

You can’t suggest it was a certainty, as Brewster and McBurnie have hardly convinced since arriving at Bramall Lane, yet they would have offered more threat than someone like Norrington-Davies.

It was certainly a decision that some fans didn’t like and, if Jokanovic had his time again, he might do things differently.

Sharp needs some support and there are two players in Brewster and McBurnie that can offer him that. Jokanovic just has to start trusting them.

Thoughts? Let us know! 

Quiz: Have Sheffield United ever been involved in these 18 scenarios?

1 of 18

They have finished in the top half of the Premier League table


Alfie is a journalist based in Yorkshire with years of experience covering the EFL. A current focus on Huddersfield Town and their fortunes back in the Championship, but out and about at as many games as possible. Covered Leeds United during their promotion-winning season in 2019/20.

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Article title: Slavisa Jokanovic explains controversial Sheffield United player call

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