Blades striker, Oli McBurnie, could have the chance this weekend to really stake his claim for a place as United travel to Wolves.
With Lys Mousset having treatment on a tight hamstring, McBurnie could find himself thrust into the fold. After getting the equalising goal against Manchester United last weekend, he should be in high spirits.
Indeed, Blades boss Chris Wilder has already admitted it will go McBurnie the world of good.
“I was delighted for Oli. That showed what he’s all about, the capability he’s got and the quality he’s got. He deserved it as well, because of all the work he’s been putting in,” Wilder said (Sheffield Star).
The goal at the weekend was only McBurnie’s second in United colours. His other strike came against Leicester City at Bramall Lane. In fact, but for a few inches, he would be sitting just one behind Mousset on three goals, after having an effort against Southampton ruled out.
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Of course, Mousset will be a big loss if he doesn’t make it this weekend. His pace, power, and movement in behind have been key for United. As has his developing partnership with David McGoldrick.
But if he is missing, McBurnie will probably be the man to step in. Having signed for £20m (BBC) in the summer in a club record deal, some fans haven’t been overly impressed. This is something we covered just last week, in fact.
Oli McBurnie deserves time and patience from Blades fans
There’s no point beating around the bush. The huge price tag puts pressure on McBurnie to perform. As Sheffield United fans, we simply aren’t used to seeing the club spend such sums. Naturally, that leads to some fans expecting the world from McBurnie.
Couple this with the fact he has been seen outside of football in the stands with the Swansea fans and his arrest for drink-driving, and it’s a fair argument for people to question his attitude.
However, as football fans, we should judge McBurnie on the pitch. He’s made five starts this season and in the main, has done pretty well. His languid manner might irritate some fans but this doesn’t mean he isn’t putting the work in.
Furthermore, you can point to the defensive qualities McBurnie brings to the table. A quick glance at the stats, and McBurnie has won the same amount of aerial duels (44) as leading defender, John Egan.
In terms of exact defensive impact, McBurnie has made some 17 headed clearances. This is nine more than fellow striker David McGoldrick and half of that of Chris Basham, who’s main job is to defend.
Time and patience
Obviously, McBurnie is paid to score goals. He will do that if the chances come his way. At just 23-years-old, there’s so much more to come from a player who has proven he knows where the net is (22 Championship goals last season demonstrate his ability). Indeed, Chris Wilder has already touched on the fact that both McBurnie and fellow new boy, Callum Robinson, are still learning their craft.
Blades fans are right to have their opinion on Oli McBurnie and are entitled to expect him to deliver. But some patience, time, and getting off his back when things aren’t going ideal might be the best way forward for all.