David Brooks: just how good? And just how tough the call for Chris Wilder as Sheffield United host Derby County this weekend?
How good is “fantastic” according to a wide-eyed and clearly smitten Teddy Sheringham, probably seeing the 20 year old for the first time as a Sky pundit on Tuesday. How tough amounts to Wilder potentially having to choose between Mark Duffy, man of the match against Barnsley last weekend, and a simply outstanding youngster whose talent he makes no attempt to hide. Then again, when a TV audience have seen Brooks’ brilliance - no other word – how do you keep him a secret?
Maybe there’s some alternative to the Duffy-Brooks brainstormer but it’s the sort of headache the Blades boss will relish, wishing there were more after his shadow squad were picked off by one from the Premier League in midweek. No shock, no shame in Leicester City’s 4-1 win. But the edge provided by extra quality was sorely evident and it follows that if Brooks has it, as looks obviously to be the case, then at some stage soon he simply has to start in the Championship.
Across in the John Street stand hospitality area Tony Currie was drooling and, according to my Twitter feed, even a comparison to a young Gareth Bale was thrown into the debate about how far Brooks can go. The word, of course, is “can” and no-one, even the man feted as United’s greatest ever player, can convert that into a “will be.”
But I like to think Currie, probably echoing Wilder, has helped nudge Brooks in the right direction. Compare the young man’s inhibited performance in the 3-2 Carabao Cup win over Walsall with his explosive impact as substitute, all running at defenders and taking them on, in the victory over Barnsley.
In between, as my guest on Sheffield Live TV, Currie said this of Brooks: “I’d like him to take players on more; put them out of the game. He’s got the equipment to do that.”
Whether David was listening or not, we don’t know. The evidence against Barnsley suggests he was and, besides, Currie knows a thing or two about making things happen from midfield. He believes Brooks naturally can, adding: “He’s got some unbelievable touches.”
Inevitably United will be tested by Premier League interest at some point, if not in this window. You’d hope that this time they have seen enough to play the long game and stonewall. And hope that Brooks knows he can develop faster by staying put for now. Which is where Wilder’s big call comes in.