John Lundstram has been one of the breakout stars for Sheffield United in what has been an impressive start to the season.
Lundstram has started all 11 Premier League matches so far, scoring three goals. The 25-year-old has helped the Blades to the joint best defensive record in the division and their current position of sixth.
It is quite the turnaround for a player who made only ten appearances in the Championship last term. Lundstram was far from a regular for Chris Wilder’s side as they earned promotion to the top flight for the first time in 12 years.
Many could have been forgiven for thinking the midfielder would leave Bramall Lane this summer. After all, if Lundstram wasn’t good enough for the Championship, how would he cut it in the Premier League?
Yet Wilder always had a plan.
“He pulled me a couple of months before the end of the season and said; ‘Listen, I want to let you know now that you’re definitely part of my plans next year. Get your mind straight, you’re not going anywhere’,” Lundstram told The Monday Night Club on BBC 5 Live Sport.
“That was a massive confidence booster and I thought I’d go back and show him I’m ready to step up.
“You definitely couldn’t get more honest than our gaffer. He’ll tell you when you’re doing well and he’ll definitely tell you when you’re not doing so well. That does go a long way with all the lads.
“Everyone likes to be told the truth. We’ve all had it in all of our careers where the manager has not quite given it to you straight. Our gaffer definitely gives it to you straight.”
Why John Lundstram has got his chance at Sheffield United
The big difference from last season to this is a change in formation. Wilder has tweaked the 3-4-1-2 system that served him so well in the second tier to go with a 3-5-2.
That extra central midfield role has gone to Lundstram. Wilder was already aware that his tactics needed to be slightly more conservative in the top flight and was planning ahead.
It wasn’t a case of Lundstram not being good enough, just not quite fitting into the current plans. Those plans have since shifted and both the Everton academy graduate and Wilder are reaping the rewards.