It’s becoming increasingly apparent as time goes by that Slavisa Jokanovic and Sheffield United were simply never going to work.
The Serbian lost his job over a month ago now and since then, Paul Heckingbottom has got things going again. Three wins on the spin, including a brilliant 1-0 victory at Fulham, have seen United climb the table. Indeed, a win over Middlesbrough on New Year’s’ Day could put United within two points of the top six, with games in hand.
There has been a clear change in performance level. The work ethic is back among the players, while Heckingbottom has gone back to the more familiar back three which brought Chris Wilder success. Noticeably, the players seem to have bought into ‘Hecky’ and his new coaching team, Stuart McCall and Jack Lester.
Sander Berge Suggests A Complete Change
Over the last few weeks, little nuggets seem to have been sneaking out about the Jokanovic era. Billy Sharp openly admitted that training lacked the required intensity. Last week, Ollie Norwood also spoke of how the ante has been upped at Shirecliffe under Heckingbottom.
And speaking to the club’s official website, Sander Berge has become the latest to suggest an upturn in training regime.
“We are being more aggressive in training I’d say. The sessions are intense and it’s going back to how we were successful previously, particularly when the club won promotion from this division three seasons ago,” Berge said.
“The management team have come in and really got amongst the group in a very positive manner. The lads love getting out on the training pitch. And I’m sure supporters would agree that performances have got drastically better.”
Berge has had to stay patient under Heckingbottom. After overcoming injury, the Norwegian is now behind Ollie Norwood and Conor Hourihane in the pecking order. However, there is a belief that Berge can be a prominent player in the second half of the season, potentially in a more attacking role.
Our View: Berge’s View Is Clear For All To See
You only have to watch some of the Inside Training content on YouTube to see how things have ramped up since Jokanovic left. Heckingbottom is clear in what he wants from his team. He wants intensity, hard work, and a willingness to implement what he’s working towards.
Those sessions have translated onto the pitch. Yes, there is room for improvement but we have scored three big wins on the bounce and the playoffs are now a very realistic possibility. In fact, the Blades could even move within seven of the top two if they can keep winning games in hand.
Heckingbottom deserves enormous credit for turning things around at Sheffield United. For Jokanovic, well, he’ll simply have to mark his spell in Sheffield down as a lesson learned!