For all the excellent work Chris Wilder did as Sheffield United manager, as the weeks tick by, you have to question the signing of Oliver Burke.
Burke arrived in the summer with Wilder believing at the time that he’d got a good deal for the club. Wilder proclaimed how he’d got a bit of cash for Callum Robinson, while in Burke he was addressing the lack of pace in the Blades squad.
But fast forward nine months or so, and the addition of Burke and subsequent sale of Robinson, is looking a dire piece of business.
Robinson, while he hasn’t exactly lit the place up at West Brom, has scored five goals for the Baggies. Burke, meanwhile, has just the one deflected Premier League effort, and another goal in the FA Cup to his name.
More worryingly though, Burke simply does not look like a player who is going to do the business. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Burke moved on the summer by whoever the new manager is.
Is Oliver Burke any better than Callum Robinson? Did Chris Wilder get this wrong?
In terms of the positives Burke can bring to the game, there are a few.
His pace is electric. Few players in the Premier League can simply sprint past players like Burke can when he fancies it. He’s also an athletic lad and at just 24, has time to improve if he really knuckles down.
But Chris Sutton summed Burke up well a few weeks back. Something we picked up on at the time, here.
Unfortunately, the negatives in Burke’s game seem to outweigh the positives. For a start, he’s definitely not a centre-forward. As things stand, he isn’t good enough at holding the ball up, while he’s not displayed the intelligence in his runs either to be a real threat. His final pass leaves a lot to be desired, and his decision making and finishing needs serious work.
To be straight, Callum Robinson hardly did himself many favours while in red and white either. Similar to Burke, he had chances, blew a lot of them, and was never suited to being in a two up top.
But with Paul Heckingbottom reverting to three up top in the last few games, Robinson might have thrived as he did with Preston. Especially going into the Championship next season.
We all want Oliver Burke to do well. He definitely ‘has something’ as you’ll hear a lot of people say. But he faces a big summer. He needs to work hard at his game, and hope a new manager can get the best from him.
But given he’s been at Celtic, West Brom, RB Leipzig, Real Sociedad, and now United since leaving Forest, the penny needs to drop. And it needs to drop sooner, rather than later.