'It's pelters' - Pundit weighs in on criticism of 'desperate' Sheffield United talent
Former Hibernian midfielder Tam McManus has weighed in on the current debate surrounding Sheffield United striker Oli McBurnie.
The 24-year-old Scotland international has failed to find the back of the net in 14 appearances for his national side, and put in another underwhelming display in front of goal during Sunday’s UEFA Nations League defeat to Slovakia.
The Blades man drew widespread ire from supporters in the aftermath of that match, and his case has not been helped by his failure to register any goals at club level since July.
But McManus believes that the target man deserves to be cut a little bit of slack.
Speaking on PLZ Soccer on Monday afternoon, the pundit said: “He's getting a lot of stick, the boy Oli McBurnie, let’s be honest. It’s pelters, especially on social media and off some commentators in the media.
"Listen, I don’t think he’s a bad player. I think he’s really struggling in front of goal. I think he needs a goal. I was a striker myself, I know the pressures when you’re going through a drought. His drought’s lasted a couple of months – mine's lasted about 10 years!
"I understand, the goals shrink. He needs a goal for Scotland, he’s desperate. He’s trying – I think he’s trying his hardest. Maybe he’s trying too hard to get that goal. He had three decent chances yesterday.
"I think he’s a decent player, some of the criticism is over the top. I get that people are entitled to their opinion but if you’re in a Scotland jersey, for me, you’ve got to get behind people, got to support them, no matter what club they play for, what club they support. It’s a wee bit political with Oli McBurnie.
"I don’t think he’s our number one striker, but as a back-up he’s adequate.”
McBurnie’s current situation at international level is complicated by his well-known support for Old Firm giants Rangers.
The Gers and their followers have a complex relationship with the national team, and it’s not uncommon for players associated with the club to come under heightened scrutiny from Scotland fans.