On a night overshadowed by the scary moment which saw John Fleck down for nearly 10 minutes, Sheffield United striker Rhian Brewster finally showed he might just be the number nine the Blades need.
Sure, Brewster didn’t get himself on the scoresheet. Nor did he ever really trouble the Reading goalkeeper. As a striker, we’d all like to see Rhian do just that. But sometimes playing the lone striker role is tough. And last night, Brewster showed he might just be up to the task.
The former Liverpool man got the nod ahead of the ever-lasting Billy Sharp as part of a three-prong United attack. It looked like Brewster might be partnered by David McGoldrick. But ‘Didzy’ and Morgan Gibbs-White played either side of the young Blades striker.
And on the whole, it was an impressive display from Brewster.
Rhian Brewster has been backed by many to come good at Sheffield United after his torrid start. His goal at Blackburn was a belter, and a sure sign of what he can produce.
David McGoldrick has been among those to back Rhian. The experienced Blades star saying previously how Brewster needed to develop his body.
“He has found it tough but I have not seen a better finisher at 20 years of age. People have to remember he is not fully developed yet. The club is working hard with him in the gym and during training, getting him used to the way we play with the physical aspects,” McGoldrick said of Brewster last year.
Last night was the clearest sign yet that Brewster is getting used to that physicality and embracing it. Per stats from Whoscored, the United striker won four of his aerial duels against experienced defenders Liam Moore and Scott Dann. Brewster also bounced back from a number of heavy kicks through the back of him. Again, a display of his character and willingness to show his worth.
Away from the recorded stats, Brewster also put in a shift. Time and again he chased back when the ball broke down in attack. Yes, he was naïve in getting his yellow card when doing just that. But the work-rate – which is all Sheffield United fans demand really – was plain to see.
The key for Rhian Brewster now will be to try and add goals to his work outside the box. Of course, when United start creating a bit more, he might get those chances to finish off.
He’ll also need a run of games. And he should get that in some way, with December throwing matches at Sheffield United every couple of days. Sure, he might have to come off the bench the odd time, but opportunities will be there and Slavisa Jokanovic has shown his belief in Brewster.
For so long, Brewster has looked a striker short on confidence and at times, all round ability. But the last few games, and last night in particular, have demonstrated an edge to Brewster we’ve not seen yet.
The building blocks are now in place. Brewster is working hard, enjoying his football (his celebrations say a lot!) and eager to succeed. If the goals can follow over the Christmas period, then the Blades might finally see a return on that huge investment.