Oli McBurnie. A Sheffield United player who divides the masses like few have at Bramall Lane in recent years.
On one side, you have the supporters who love McBurnie, both on and off the field. A character like few in the Blades squad, McBurnie’s social media gets him plenty of attention, which, in turn, has a section of support cutting him some slack on matchdays.
On the other side of that, you’ve got the fans who just want to see a footballer doing his job. The old school bunch really. Not interested in what you’re like off the pitch, especially when you’ve had negative press like McBurnie.
Add those dividing opinions on our number nine with the fact he cost a reported £20m, scored just six goals last season, missed countless chances on Sunday and is still looking for his first of the campaign, and you can see why there’s pressure on the 24-year-old’s shoulders.
Whether that pressure is warranted is another story and argument. Personally, I’m a big fan of McBurnie. I think he gets harsh criticism at times from some supporters. There’s also a myth around him that he doesn’t work hard during the 90 minutes, something I just won’t buy.
But…the goals have got to start coming soon.
The issue for McBurnie, when you look at the perception people have of him, is that when the goals don’t come and he misses chances like he did against Fulham, he just leaves himself open to the critics.
Of course, he’s a professional football. It comes with the territory. If he’s missing chances, then, as a striker, people are going to have their say. Especially, when you’ve signed for Sheffield United for 20m quid!
The problem for McBurnie is that, at the moment more than ever, we just can’t miss those chances he passed up at the weekend. The header on 30 minutes or so was particularly poor. A golden chance for a player who should thrive on headed chances from inside 12 yards out.
Last season, we had a similar situation with David McGoldrick. The bonus 12 months ago was that we were picking up results as a team. ‘Didzy’ got away with things a bit. Your misses are always quickly forgotten in a team doing well.
Sadly for McBurnie, things aren’t going to plan this year. If he plants that header home on Sunday, the whole mood and mindset changes. As a team, we’re yet to take the lead this season, barring the cup game at Burnley.
I’d love nothing more than for ‘Oli Mac’ to find his form, fire in the goals, and get us up the table. But time is running out. He has to gobble up those chances going forward. And with Rhian Brewster now breathing down his neck, nobody will know that more than McBurnie himself.