Nobody wants Sheffield United and Chris Wilder to fail but the selection of Billy Sharp and Oli McBurnie as a partnership is a bizarre one.
It’s also one that needs putting in the bin and classing as a failed experiment if the Blades are to see any sort of success at the top of the pitch.
Wilder opted for the pairing, clearly hoping McBurnie’s presence would allow United to hold the ball at the top of the pitch, while Sharp’s experience and, in fairness, decent enough form, got him the nod.
But just like in games where they’ve started together before such as Southampton and Wolves, it looked a toothless attack and one which was far too comfortable for Fulham’s defence to deal with.
Sharp and McBurnie have qualities, but not as a pairing at this level
This is not a slamming or a dig at either player here. Both put shifts in, both wanted to do well, and both are desperate to succeed and help the club.
However, at Premier League level, those few occasions we’ve seen Sharp and McBurnie together have shown it just isn’t going to work. The big issue is neither are blessed with pace to run in behind or work the channels properly.
That ensures that defences are comfortable allowing the ball into both players, safe in the knowledge nobody is going to spin in behind and cause the problems that defenders hate, such as being turned, being ran at, and put on the back foot.
Last night was a prime example. Everything was in front of the Fulham defenders. The stats backed it up, especially in the first 45, as United didn’t register a shot, or even a touch in the opposition box. Pretty woeful really.
For all the effort, courage, and will to do well for Sheffield United, sadly, this McBurnie and Sharp partnership is not the way forward.
Four goals between them all season is pretty dismal reading. Couple that with their styles of play, and if you’re a Premier League defender, you’re probably delighted at seeing the teamsheet.
Chris Wilder has to go with something else between now and the end of the season. Whether that be one of McBurnie or Sharp with someone else remains to be seen. But for our own sake, we cannot rely on this pairing.