Blades striker, Oli McBurnie, delivered a masterclass in centre-forward play at Brighton yesterday.
The big striker scored the winning goal as the Blades made it nine unbeaten away from home. The win propelled them into fifth in the Premier League table. Once again, the opponents could have little complaints about Chris Wilder’s men running out winners.
But it was McBurnie who should be coming in for some big praise this week. After being given the nod ahead of Lys Mousset, the Scottish international repaid his manager’s faith and then some.
His goal was the finish of a man who cost £20m. He kept his cool, balance, and composure, to fire past Matty Ryan at the near-post after showing great determination.
It proved to be the winning goal, too. McBurnie’s third of the season putting him just two behind the aforementioned Mousset in the goal charts.
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Ever since signing in the summer, some fans have been quick to jump on McBurnie’s back. With the amount of money spent on him, some have, rightly or wrongly, expected the world of McBurnie.
He started the season well enough. A goal against Leicester and a good performance against Virgil Van Dijk showing what he had in the locker.
However, a lack of goals following on from there led to some criticism. A lot of it, in our opinion, unwarranted.
Of course, a big fee is going to bring pressure and expectation. But this is a striker who is still only 23. He’s adapting to a new club, a new system, and is being kept out by the superb displays of David McGoldrick and Mousset.
A different option
It was obvious from Chris Wilder’s recruitment in the summer what he was doing. He spent money in attacking areas to give him enough options at the top end of the field.
Yesterday saw McBurnie prove that Wilder was right to go that way. He won headers against towering defenders, worked hard, and, at times, dropped into deep areas to keep possession and help out the midfield.
All that, plus his well-taken goal, capped off a fine day at the office for the Blades number nine. He did the hard work to allow Lys Mousset to come on for the final 20 and try and run in-behind tiring defenders.
In Oli McBurnie, Sheffield United have a talent who is not only going to get better but continue to prove those doubters wrong.