Gus Hamer's instant impact at Sheffield United won't be a surprise to some - Alan Biggs
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There I was thinking he’d be better keeping his absolutely eye-popping opinion of Hamer to himself when Stuart Linnell, formerly of this parish and for many years an authority on Coventry City, exploded onto my timeline.
“I’ll say it now,” declared Stuart. “Hamer is the best footballer that Unitedites will have seen since TC - and, yes, he will improve. Enjoy him. He is special.” Note “since” the great Tony Currie, but still an extraordinary claim.
And let me add that Linnell, once a personal mentor at Radio Hallam and a very distinguished broadcaster with an MBE for media services, is by nature careful and understated. So he’d really got me with that one. He qualified it thus: “Long balls, short passes, shots from distance, great service to team mates, brilliant at set pieces, immense skill, drives you forward.”
And a few days later, there was the Brazil-born 26-year-old scoring a debut goal of stunning composure and class in United’s narrow defeat at Nottingham Forest. Linnell didn’t bat the proverbial eyelid. In short, Hamer is a bit of everything. And everything you could dream of in an attacking midfielder. All for a fee rising to £15m.
That will end up some £10m short of what the Blades will receive for Iliman Ndiaye and it would be dangerous and unfair to compare the two - albeit that Ndiaye is without doubt one of United’s finest since TC. But Hamer’s goal stats for Coventry last season were not far off - 11 scored and many created.
He’s three years older, though - which led to some challenging my claim that United were following a pattern of not being able to afford the finished article. I meant that in terms of the top flight. Any aspiring top talent cannot say they have fulfilled their potential until they have flourished in the Premier League. Hamer will have his work cut out to do that across the season because the team around him has all on to stay up.
But, providing he delivers Paul Heckingbottom’s confidence in him having a strong team work ethic, Hamer may just thrive on United looking to him for inspiration - in a way a superior side wouldn’t.
Same with Archer.
And won’t it be interesting to see him pit his talents against last season’s treble-winners Manchester City at Bramall Lane on Sunday!