Look, we all know that Oli McBurnie isn’t everyone’s cup of tea among Sheffield United fans. For every McBurnie fan, there is seemingly someone who is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
Sure, there is a case for both sides of the argument when it comes to McBurnie.
On the plus side, he is a willing runner, clearly enjoys playing for Sheffield United, and – as he’s proven in the Premier League – can be a goal threat when on song. Further, he engages with supporters on social media, doesn’t shy away, and has overcome setbacks in the past.
On the reverse, of course, are other factors. On the pitch, some will point to a distinct lack of goals in red and white for a £20m striker. McBurnie has just eight to his name as a Blade in more than 80 appearances. He’d probably admit himself that’s not good enough. Away from the pitch, some will point fingers at his drink driving offence, the altercation with a fan on the street, and his love of other football clubs, namely, Swansea City.
But at a time when United are pushing for a playoff spot, Blades fans need to back, and not slate, the big striker.
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Time To Keep Faith With Oli McBurnie
This is in no way to say anyone criticising McBurnie is wrong. He does need to score more goals, and he does need to contribute more in 90 minutes. Likewise, he needs to keep fit and persist with things to show everyone why Chris Wilder parted ways with £20m for him.
But at the same time, simply slating his every performance or move is not going to do anyone any favours. Further, was McBurnie really THAT bad against Hull City? The reality is, really, he wasn’t. Yes, he should have done better with a few half-chances, but he put a shift in, won headers, and was good with the ball at his feet too.
Per Whoscored, United’s number nine won a team high five aerial duels, completed three clearances defensively, and got two of his five half-chances on target. Sure, he’d have liked to have done better with those chances, but still the signs are there.
McBurnie is also fighting his way back to fitness. Getting 90 in the tank will have done him the world of good last night as well. And, as Chris Morgan said on SUTV, once a goal does come, you do feel his confidence will soar. Of course, Billy Sharp is leading the way and will, in all likelihood, come back in against Swansea City. But rest assured, McBurnie will have his part to play.
For the supporters of the Blades, then, the time now is to back Oli McBurnie and hope he starts firing. The time for judgement will come in May. Right now, he needs all the help he can get.