There's promotion pressure on Sheffield United and Slavisa Jokanovic and fans have to help them out - Alan Biggs

It should be noted from the outset that Slavisa Jokanovic signed a three-year contact as Sheffield United manager. Not a one-season deal to get the club back in the Premier League.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 12:00 pm

It should be noted from the outset that Slavisa Jokanovic signed a three-year contact as Sheffield United manager. Not a one-season deal to get the club back in the Premier League.

A small detail in today’s world but an important one; at least it should be.

Now we all know that nothing’s forever, as anyone connected to Bramall Lane is more acutely aware of than anybody after recent events.

Slavisa Jokanovic, the new Sheffield United manager: Darren Staples / Sportimage

And we all know that contracts mean relatively little. Commonly, the bottom line is not the proclaimed duration but the severance clause within, often 12 months either way.

Which is not to say that United can’t win an instant promotion from the Championship - I certainly think they are equipped to target it - or that Jokanovic would be expendable if they fall short in his first season.

But no-one can guarantee it and a twice promotion-winner is deserving of more than one chance, especially considering that a very necessary pepping up of the squad with new faces is still awaited.

Why I think this is important is the pressure that comes from two of last year’s three clubs relegated from the top flight winning an instant return - Norwich City and Jokanovic’s former team, Watford.

Bournemouth fell short but at least made the play-offs. So that is where the minimum expectation lies and no wonder the new Blades boss is not a fan of being promotion favourites.

United will also be measured against the fortunes of the two sides that came down with them, West Brom and Fulham. Not to mention the host of sizeable outfits who believe their place is back at the top table.

Frankly, I struggle to see this as the sort of rampaging promotion effort of two years ago.

But what will be crucial, and helpful, is the connection between an all-new management team, many of the same players and the fans.

Pre-Covid, that connection was probably as strong as it has ever been in the history of the club.

So much has happened since that can be attributed, in no small measure, to the absence of supporters from the stadium. The fans themselves know that.

They know, amid the semi-euphoria that comes from the pure and simple pleasure of being able to watch their team again, that they have a vital part to play.

Blades by nature are a stoic bunch. They’ve had to be.

For all the upheaval of last season on and off the field, this coming together is huge.

As unlikely as it may have seemed at one time, the crowd has a manager and players to believe in and to enhance the outstanding legacy of the last one.