Around 18 months ago, it was hard to imagine writing an opinion piece on why Sheffield United midfielder, John Fleck, might need to be taken out of the starting XI. But alas, here we are.
Fleck, a free-transfer signing back in the summer of 2016 under Chris Wilder, has developed into a stalwart for this Sheffield United midfield in recent seasons. ‘Flecky’ was outstanding in the two promotion seasons, and equally as good in the first PL season, scoring five goals.
However, like so many in this Sheffield United team, Fleck looks a shadow of his former self. This is not a new thing either that we can solely blame on the tactics employed by Slavisa Jokanovic.
Out of Sorts
Fleck, for all his endeavour at times, is just not contributing how he was while at his best under Wilder. Gone are the days of the driving, all-action midfielder we’d become accustomed to. Now, as shown at Forest last night, Fleck seems eager to move the ball on as quickly as he can.
By his own admission, the Sheffield United midfielder is not at the level where he expects or wants to be. Indeed, his attacking output has dipped significantly. Fleck has scored just a single goal in his last 46 outings.
For a player of his quality, it’s simply not good enough. Let’s not forget, Fleck was reportedly interesting Arsenal not so long ago. You would laugh now if anyone suggested such a rumour.
What next for John Fleck at Sheffield United?
Slavisa Jokanovic said after the game with Nottingham Forest last night that his selection of Fleck is his choice. And while there’s a case that his form doesn’t warrant continuous selection, the problem for Jokanovic is who does he select instead?
Conor Hourihane was woeful when he started against Millwall. Jokanovic took him off after just over half an hour. This week, the United manager also admitted he wanted another holding midfielder.
Beyond that, the Blades midfield options are limited. Regan Slater is unfancied, while impressive youngster Zak Brunt has been sent to Southend on loan. Ben Osborn is an option, but he’s been doing quite well down the left.
Chris Basham is one that sometimes gets a mention. But ‘Bash’ has never been a ball playing midfielder, and has played at the back for five seasons now.
Most Sheffield United fans would simply like to see the return to the John Fleck of old. The Scottish midfielder should be one of the best in this division. But right now, he’s simply not showing it.