Billy Sharp tells Sheffield United teammates what they must do to stand a chance of getting back into the Premier League next season
Billy Sharp, the Sheffield United skipper, has told his teammates that a good start to the new season will be key to their hopes of returning to the Premier League at the first attempt.
New boss Slavisa Jokanović’s promotion push begins a week on Saturday, at home to Birmingham City, after the Blades complete their disrupted pre-season programme with friendlies at Doncaster Rovers and at home to Norwich City.
Sharp is expected to be fit for the start of the new Championship campaign, after being forced to go under the knife at the back end of last season, and said of Jovanović’s appointment: “It's gone down well with the fans. He's got the pedigree and the promotions, and he’s come in with his own ideas. The lads will have to adapt to that.
“We need to start with a clean slate, shrug our shoulders, stick our chests out and be brave and confident with whatever he wants to do. Give it a right good go.
“We know we can do that, there's still a lot of quality in the squad and it's important to get a good start because it can hurt you if you don't.”
Jokanović began work earlier this summer, after being appointed as Chris Wilder’s successor. Under Wilder, United went from League One into the Premier League with two promotions in three seasons, and were challenging for an European place when the Covid-19 pandemic struck last year.
But without the backing of their fans in stadia, they fizzled out to finish ninth in 2019/20 before being relegated last season.
“We were on such a wave and had our fans for the first half of the season when we finished ninth,” Sharp added.
“Even then for me I was gutted because we overachieved that season and our fans weren't there to see it. We sort of went out with a whimper in the end.
“We talked about Europe and all that, and that would have been ridiculous if we'd have achieved that. So I think people forget how well we actually did.
“Then we didn't start very well last season and got hurt because of that. Hopefully we can get off to a better start next season and hopefully have some more good times.”