The manager was different. The approach was too. Sadly, some familiar traits remain, as this meeting with Birmingham City revealed.
Maxime Colin’s goal halfway through the first period proved enough to settle the problem in favor of the visitors, as Slavisa Jokanovic had a frustrating start to life in the shelter of Bramall Lane.
The result will be a disappointment for the 52-year-old, although neither Watford nor Fulham came out of the blocks under his tutelage before embarking on the promotion of the Championship victory.
What was more concerning, however, was the sight of United exploiting any of the openings they had created or presented to. Sander Berge was also passive in midfield while Lys Mousset came out injured.
There was no shortage of industry in front of a noisy crowd, as supporters returned to the stadium in droves following the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. But as Jokanovic will have deplored, there was little final product. This confirmed why, although he said he was satisfied with the overall quality of his squad, the former Yugoslav international admitted that a “refresh” was needed.
City head coach Lee Bowyer has admitted not knowing how Jokanovic would approach this game before leaving the Midlands. But momentum is a motive for all Serbian sides, so preventing United from building any was the first target for the visitors.
After a quick and furious opening, they did just that. In, much to Jokanovic’s obvious frustration on the sideline, in the most efficient way possible.
Colin didn’t silence the crowd when he led City in the lead after 18 minutes. But his finish, which revealed United’s lack of specialist cover as the left-winger, changed the dynamics of the game. post as United rushed straight from the restart.
There was little danger when Ryan Woods recovered the ball from United’s right flank and traded passes with Jeremie Bela. But the Angolan international was aware of the possibilities. Unlike Ben Osborn who looked every inch like a midfielder because, replacing injured Enda Stevens, he failed to prevent Colin from meeting the center.
Burke, paired with David McGoldrick and Mousset in attack, almost conjured up the perfect answer when he burst in from the right. His shot beat Matija Sarkic but not the post. Still, the Scots’ run confirmed that City’s left flank was an area United could exploit.
Realizing this clearly himself, Burke turned things around early in the second period. His cross was knocked down by Sarkic, but it was not the highest price United paid as Mousset was forced to retire after appearing to contract a muscle as he threw himself on the ball.
United had plenty of reason to mourn VAR during their two-year stint in the top flight. But they regretted his absence in the 68th minute when John Fleck’s shot hit Gary Gardner in the arm. The town man was inside the area but nothing was given, despite furious protests from three sides of the field.
Sheffield United: Ramsdale, Baldock, Egan, Robinson, Osborn, Norwood, Fleck (Sharp 68), Berge, Burke (McBurnie 79), McGoldrick, Mousset (Brewster 52) Not used: Verrips, Basham, Freeman, Bogle.
City of Birmingham: Sarkic, Colin, Pedersen, Roberts, Woods (Castilio 78), Chong (Sunjic 74), Hogan (Leko 68), Jutkiewicz, Bela, Dean Gardner. Not used: Trueman, Ami, Aneke, Sanchez.
Arbitrator: Tim Robinson (West Sussex).
More about this article: Read More
This notice was published: 2021-08-07 20:54:57