Sheffield United's 'boring' players answered big question at Reading following 'disgrace' claims

Sheffield United’s ‘boring’ players answered big question at Reading following ‘disgrace’ claims

It was far from pretty and Slavisa Jokanovic admitted afterwards that there was still a long way to go before satisfaction levels are high enough, but it was very much a case of job done on Tuesday night at Reading.

Since reverting to three at the back and restoring Chris Basham to the defensive unit and Wes Foderingham between the posts, Sheffield United have picked up four points in the space of four days and two clean sheets.

The fact they had to really dig in during 13 minutes of added-on time and show huge personal courage to overcome the shock of watching their team-mate John Fleck collapse added to their credit for securing a much-needed win.

A 1-0 success on the road on a Tuesday night, players going over to the fans, who were in splendid voice, felt very much like the character of old.

It’s been sorely missed.

Celebrations were obviously muted somewhat given the events of the evening, with United thankfully now reporting that Fleck has been discharged from hospital.

The players arrived for this fixture in the face of huge criticism, with former Blade and Sky Sports pundit Lee Hendrie describing them as ‘boring to watch’, and fellow EFL pundit Don Goodman suggesting they need to ‘take a long hard look in the mirror’ and that their performances were a ‘disgrace’.

Yet, they responded to those on Tuesday night, by showing great personal strength to navigate their way through that final period in what must have been hugely difficult circumstances.

Billy Sharp’s team huddle on the halfway line reflected that at full-time and having seen how many points have been lost late on in games this season, Jokanovic was understandably full of praise for his players for the way they saw the game out.

“We were strong and they wanted to win the game and do everything not to concede a goal,” he said.

“These three points are positive and what we need. We found a way to win. It’s not easy place to come and play football.

“What’s more important is that we respect ourselves and put everything on the field.

“If you say we played a fantastic game, it’s not true. We know we can play better game but if we are talking about the second 45 minutes against Coventry is a starting point and we add some more small things.”

But for Morgan Gibbs-White’s early free-kick that came back off the crossbar and a chance for Jayden Bogle shortly before his winner, it was another game where United were slow, laboured and struggled to create.

However, the last two games has more than given the manager and players a platform to build from.

If this was a side at the top end of the table we describe a 1-0 win at Reading on a cold Tuesday night in November as a great result and a sign of a good team that they have returned with all three points when not playing particularly well.

So with that in mind, United’s performance for large parts last night should not detract from handing out praise.

A lot has been levelled at these players in recent weeks, but Tuesday’s win felt like a big positive and one of those results you could potentially look back on at the end of the season as a big turning point.

There is still a long way to go before United look a side that is functioning all over the pitch, but having entered this fixture off the back of two wins in nine, five points off the drop and the manager under pressure, United have given themselves a belated starting point in their season.

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