Alan Biggs at Large: Too early to write off Sheffield United’s Premier League recruits as flops

Slavisa Jokanovic, finally targeted, can be the answer to the first big question posed at Bramall Lane this summer.

Wednesday, 12th May 2021, 12:00 pm

Here’s another important one. Sheffield United and “the waste of money” - do we really know it is yet?

Fair to say definitive replies will be delivered next season.

If £20m strikers Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie flop back in the Championship, where they have thrived before, then the answer will be hard to refute.

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Big things are expected of Rhian Brewster and Oliver McBurnie next season.

If they rekindle a spark at that level - as past evidence suggests they can - then valuations are restored.

There are clubs in the Championship who will pay £20m for a striker to get them promoted.

The bigger question, assuming both stay at Bramall Lane, is whether they would be good enough for a second run in the Premier League.

It’s easier to make a case for Brewster (21) than McBurnie (24), even though both are still developing.

First, let there be no doubt that both have fallen well short this season - and they are not alone in a side that seemed, individually and collectively, to run out of gas.

If only Brewster had some of McBurnie’s on-field aggression and presence to force his way into the action rather than being a passive, peripheral figure waiting for the game to come to him.

If only McBurnie had a bit more finery to go with his physique and attitude.

But you can’t dismiss either in the Championship where Brewster scored a goal every other game for Swansea on loan from Liverpool and needs a refresher in confidence to revive his potential.

As for former manager Chris Wilder’s other bigger signings, well, it would be money back as a minimum for Sander Berge and the same for Aaron Ramsdale.

The goalkeeper has been in a harsher focus than anyone else but has emerged as a big character who, in the future, will more than justify United’s £13m outlay.

Then the relatively small deal last summer that brought Jayden Bogle and Max Lowe to Bramall Lane at £5m the pair from Derby.

While Lowe has failed to make an impression, Bogle looks worth more than the sum total of that deal.

Where I think Wilder misjudged was allowing Callum Robinson (five Premier League goals for West Brom) to leave in a part swap for Ollie Burke, who has power and power to burn but a powderpuff delivery of cross and shot.

On balance, though, it’s too early and also misleading to write off last summer’s recruitment given that it was based, salary wise, on players for development rather than proven.

Some of it could even take the Blades back to where they want to be - providing the core group is retained.