Defeat for Sheffield United at Burnley but a glimpse at what will please Chris Wilder
Survival, not silverware, is Sheffield United’s objective this season as Chris Wilder acknowledged before this Carabao Cup tie.
“We want to establish ourselves in the Premier League,” he insisted, sidestepping a question about his team’s prospects of reaching Wembley with the deft of David McGoldrick. “We want to do what Burnley have done, and they’ve done brilliant, by staying here for a good few years.”
Sean Dyche’s side, supposedly the model for United to follow as they bid to hit Wilder’s target, progressed 5-4 on penalties despite falling behind early on when David McGoldrick diverted the ball past Nick Pope. But after Matej Vydra had equalised, Sean Dyche’s men booked their place in the third round when United’s Oli McBurnie was the only player to miss from the spot; Pope scrambling his low drive away to safety.
Still, if this was a glimpse into United’s future, with five debutants on display, then Wilder will feel more confident when the time comes to usher in the new guard that his team can continue to compete at Premier League level.
Ethan Ampadu was neat and tidy after arriving on loan from Chelsea, Oliver Burke tireless in attack. Jayden Bogle also approached his task well, making a series of important contributions at both ends of the pitch. But it was another player signed from Derby County - Bogle’s fellow defender Max Lowe - who was the pick of the players awarded their first starts by Wilder. Between the posts, Wes Foderingham was powerless to prevent Vydra’s equaliser and despite proving unable to make a save during the shoot-out, did the basics well.
McGoldrick’s fifth minute goal, which until Vydra’s leveller appeared destined to send the visitors through, should do the centre-forward’s confidence no harm at all as he seeks to become more clinical in the box. But Wilder, one of McGoldrick’s loudest cheerleaders, will derive even greater pleasure from how it came about. Sander Berge and Jack Robinson have both found adapting to United’s 3-5-2 system a challenge in the past.
But on the evidence of the move which McGoldrick embellished with a sliding finish, they are now well on their way to becoming fluent in Wilder’s footballing language - Berge picking out Robinson’s driving run from centre-half before he in turn found Lowe. The former Derby County defender, making his first appearance for United, whipped a delightful centre across the area, which McGoldrick turned home.
Burnley, who saw Johann Berg Gudmundsson taken off on a stretcher soon after, grew in stature as the contest progressed with only an offside flag preventing Vydra from being awarded a penalty before Robbie Brady struck a post early in the second period.
Vydra restored parity when Jay Rodriguez split United’s defence by cheating the ball into the Czech’s path before substitute Oli McBurnie twice went close at the other end before seeing his penalty blocked on the line by Pope. Robbie Brady, after Ben Osborn had kept United’s hopes alive, netted the decisive effort.