John Fleck is the top scorer for Sheffield United this season with five goals.

Fleck is tied at the top of the charts for the Blades with Lys Mousset, who has also struck five times so far in 2019/20.

It may not seem like a hugely impressive figure, with Chris Wilder’s side having largely built their success on a solid defence, rather than attacking prowess.

As things stand, United have the second best defensive record behind leaders Liverpool. However, at the other end only five teams in the division have scored fewer.

Yet Fleck’s achievement looks more impressive when it’s considered the midfielder only managed eight goals in his previous three years at Bramall Lane.

This is already the best scoring campaign of the Scotland international’s career, with 10 league matches still remaining. In the Premier League, Fleck has averaged a goal every fifth game this term.

How John Fleck became Sheffield United top scorer

(Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images)

So what’s changed? How did an industrious midfield player, who often contributed assists but rarely found the back of the net himself, become so potent in and around the box?

“At this level we have to be a bit more wary to the counter-attack or losing possession in dangerous areas of the pitch,” Fleck told Sky Sports. “We’ve changed this season to more of a (midfield) three to give us a bit more security.

“But there’s that bit more freedom to get forward and try to get in the box at the right times. That’s the conversation the manager had with me at the start of the season.

“He told me I had to score more goals. Thankfully, I’ve managed to do that.”

Unsurprisingly it was a deliberate and calculated decision from Wilder.

When the Blades were promoted in 2018/19, Fleck played in a central midfield two alongside Oliver Norwood. The Scot was more defensively responsible, with Mark Duffy in the number ten role providing the attacking support to the strikers.

Following their promotion to the top flight Wilder decided to tweak his tactics.

The attacking midfielder dropped back to make a midfield three. Norwood now operates as a deep-lying play-maker, with Fleck and John Lundstram given more freedom to go forwards. Lundstram has four league goals himself.

Yet while Wilder was the visionary, Fleck has made it work. For that he deserves plenty of praise.

Prior to this season, Fleck had scored just 19 goals in his entire career to date. To change his style – just shy of his 28th birthday – and now look so potent in front of goal, is impressive.

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