Alan Biggs at Large: We need to give tolerance, understanding and time for Slavisa Jokanovic.

The first thing to say about Sheffield United is that their current turmoil is not unusual in context. Or surprising in the circumstances.

Wednesday, 25th August 2021, 3:31 pm
Sheffield United manager Slavisa Jokanovic: Nick Potts/PA Wire

You need a proven manager to replace an iconic one. Big tick there. But doing that is only a start without the tools for the job.

I’ve made a conscious effort to keep Chris Wilder’s name out of it, but when someone has been so successful and so popular – notwithstanding a relegation for which he would, and did, take the rap - it becomes relevant.

That’s without revisiting the issues surrounding his departure.

All is said and done on that score, even if recruitment remains a sore point and the key relationship between dressing room and boardroom is already - and again - showing signs of strain.

But it’s a football fact that clubs struggle to “move on” after revered and legendary figures depart.

The best modern day example is Manchester United post Sir Alex Ferguson, with shades of similar at Arsenal in the wake of Arsene Wenger.

If that comparison is too grand for the Blades and Wilder - which I dispute because he was the absolute DNA of the place - then there are humbler instances.

Like at nearby Huddersfield, shock winners at the Lane last Saturday to leave United with one point and one goal from four games.

The Terriers have been grappling to reverse a decline since David Wagner achieved an unprecedented two seasons in the top flight (notice the parallel). They are on their third manager since.

So that is why this column asks for tolerance, understanding and time for Slavisa Jokanovic. In the hope his patience also stretches.

However much he takes promotion demands on the chin and fronts uncomplainingly for that, this was always a high risk job for whoever got it, no exceptions.

Look at it this way. Same players, mostly schooled by and loyal to Wilder, little resource until now for signings and an unspoken encouragement to do things differently, certainly in regard to recruitment liaison and on the field too where Jokanovic’s attempt to change system has quickly foundered.

In that scenario, all a new manager can do - and all have individual methods - is to put his stamp on things via incomings.

They were needed anyway and this goes to the heart of the problem.

I believe the core group remains capable, certainly for the Championship, but the plain fact is it has been unaltered for a long time.

Three and four seasons, going back further in some cases, is an age in football.A staleness has crept in during a largely barren summer dominated by talk of an essential sale or two.Consequently, and understandably, Jokanovic has cast a restless, prowling figure, hungry for new blood.

“I am here one month and I want help,” is as stark as it gets from a new manager.It’s more about chemistry than individual elements. I saw something similar across the city, leading eventually to a club reduced to the third tier.

Not for one minute do I fear relegation for Sheffield United this season. But I hope Jokanovic has the lion’s share of the Aaron Ramsdale fee for United’s recruitment team to reinvest on his behalf.

The dressing room needs it to provide that missing spark, something different, in midfield and up front.

Mind you, it is arguable that something similar would have spared the Serb, who is as proven as they come, this early ordeal.

I’m pretty sure his predecessor would have reapplied 3-4-1-2 and gone with Oli McBurnie and Rhian Brewster as the spearhead from the off, a pairing started for the first time last weekend.

But that is immaterial now to the main point.

A new manager with his own ideas, yet to be effectively implemented for no major fault of his own.

The four or five signings he seeks are coming far too late - if they happen - but could still lift the mood quite quickly on the back of beating Derby in the Carabao Cup. And action will have to be quick as the window goes into its last week.