Cofie furthers more than his football education

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THEIR sense of timing, unlike Robin Van Persie, Danny Welbeck or Wayne Rooney, left plenty to be desired.

But the MUTV crew which, just over a week ago, descended upon Bramall Lane to film a feature on John Cofie proved remarkably perceptive when it came to the reasons why the young striker joined Sheffield United on loan.

True, with him having mustered only 135 minutes of first team action since the start of October, opportunities to discuss football were few and far between.

But, chatting with the visitors from Old Trafford, it quickly became apparent that, far from expecting Cofie to be a permanent fixture in Danny Wilson’s starting 11, Sir Alex Ferguson and his staff viewed the move as being important in more general terms.

Questions posed to yours truly after the player himself had performed for the camera focused on the difficulties of moving away from home, being forced to make new friends and acquaintances, together with embracing a new regime.

Pretty routine stuff for most of us who live on Planet Earth but, in the cosseted world of professional football, challenging indeed.

Reckon I’m joking? Let’s look at the facts. We speak of wanting to produce clever players capable of making decisions on the pitch.

But, behind the scenes, many clubs employ staff tasked with organising every aspect of players’ lives from doing the shopping to opening a bank account.

Letting youngsters arrange their next pre-season tour rather than simply being required to hand over their passports wouldn’t actually be a bad idea. Seriously.

Now, there’s no point in pussy-footing around. At the moment, Cofie’s stay with United is not going to plan.

Up to 35 hours of game time have potentially been available to the 19-year-old. 26 of those have been spent sat in the stands or on the bench.

At the moment, Manchester’s United are enjoying the best end of the deal. Their namesakes from Sheffield must ensure that balance is reversed. Or, at the very least, skewed far more in their favour.

Cofie is, as his goals against Rotherham, Colchester and AFC Bournemouth have shown, capable of the exceptional. He must become better at the mundane.

He has to learn to impose himself on matches more, effect their outcome, rather than simply decorate them with occasional moments of brilliance.

Young footballers, by their very nature, are usually inconsistent.

Which makes the performance levels achieved by Harry Maguire and George Long of late even more impressive.

Nevertheless, since joining Danny Wilson’s side on a ‘youth’ contract which Fergie can terminate at 24 hours notice, Cofie has tasted success, disappointment, high, lows and doubtless the odd pat on the back and rollocking too.

A career’s worth of experience condensed into three short months.

Which, it must be remembered when Wilson allows his own players to leave on loan, is the point of the exercise.