It was a frustrating night for Reda Khadra last night as Sheffield United beat Bristol City to make it two from two on the road in the space of four days.
Khadra, despite being given a chance from the start last night, was given the hook by Paul Heckingbottom after just 33 minutes. Heckingbottom explained his decision afterwards, admitting he’d made an error and unfortunately for Khadra, he was the one who had to suffer.
“The change was tactical,” explains the United manager. “I got the shape wrong. We couldn’t start with a three-man midfield because we didn’t have Tommy Doyle (due to a calf injury) and there was no way John Fleck was lasting the game,” the Blades boss explained.
“I have spoken to Reda, and he is desperately disappointed. I’ll have another one later, too. It is not nice. But this was not a reflection on Reda’s performance.”
But what next for Khadra? And is there a way back from what could be seen as a bit of a humiliation from his point of view. Well, it seems the Blades face a big decision after the World Cup.
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It’s clear as day this loan spell hasn’t worked out as many expected. Khadra has only started four games with his only major contribution being the last-minute winner at Swansea. But this can be a move that still works.
For Paul Heckingbottom, the task is clear from his side. He’ll need to get Khadra back on side, use all his man-management skills, and ensure the German is ready to contribute when called upon next time.
From Khadra’s side of things, there is work to be done. Sure, he can be annoyed at how last night and his spell in Sheffield has gone. However, The Athletic reports how the Blades do have an obligation to buy Khadra should we win promotion and he make a certain number of appearances. What that number is, is unknown.
However, there is still time for Khadra to do the business. There are 28 games remaining. Ample time for the German to contribute. How much he does bring to the table, you’d suspect, is down to him. Heckingbottom often makes a point of saying hard work and training efforts will be rewarded. That element will sit with Khadra.
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If Reda Khadra is going to succeed this season he needs to buckle down, work hard, and learn the position of centre-forward.
United are not going to play with wide forwards like Blackburn did. Nor are we going to be using him at wing-back after that failed experiment. Khadra, then, needs to focus on what Paul Heckingbottom wants from him.
Sure, both Sharp and Khadra had done little in last night’s game before he was hooked. However, Sharp has credit in the bank and that experience of being a central striker essentially kept him on the field.
There is hope for Khadra though. Rhian Brewster is unlikely to be back any time soon. Nor is Daniel Jebbison. That leaves a door open for Khadra. With three games before the World Cup break, Khadra is likely to get minutes.
And at the end of the day, it’s down to him to take advantage of those minutes and prove to Heckingbottom, United fans, and more importantly, himself, that he can contribute to this Sheffield United team.