'No brainer from me' - Whatever happens with Kean Bryan and Sheffield United, his personal turnaround deserves recognition

Kean Bryan has been one of the rare success stories of Sheffield United's season to date, stepping out of the shadows to play himself into contention for a new contract offer at Bramall Lane.

Monday, 8th March 2021, 4:00 pm

It's been some turnaround for a player who, one fan crudely remarked earlier this season, had been seen more times in OK! magazine than on the pitch for United.

But there has always been a player in Bryan - even if his rare appearances in cup football for the Blades were not the ideal circumstances to show it.

Bad players don't come through Manchester City's academy, and certainly aren't given the captaincy by a legendary former leader in Patrick Vieira when he was in situ at the Etihad campus.

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But it has taken until the last six months or so of his Bramall Lane contract for Bryan to finally get the chance to show what he can do on a consistent basis, and he has taken it.

Bar the odd rick, like a short backpass which Timo Werner gleefully seized upon against Chelsea, he has been solid on the left of United's three-man back line, both in defence and attack.

And Bryan, still only 24 years old, is making a good fist of meeting his manager Chris Wilder's recent challenge, to earn himself a new contract offer this summer.

Kean Bryan, the Sheffield United defender, started his career with Manchester City: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

If social media is anything to go by - and at the minute, with crowds still banned from games, it's the best judge of a fanbase's mood that we have - then the majority of United supporters would not be averse at all to Bryan being offered fresh terms as the Blades prepare for a return to the Championship.

Kean Bryan is told that he can earn a new Sheffield United deal before end of season

"He’s definitely earned one for me," Matthew Grayson said. "He’s improved so much and the run of games can only help him get better."

Fellow Blade Tom Fontana said: "Thrown into the deep end, he’s been one of the positives of a disappointing season. Just a shame for him that his competition will be the calibre of Jack."

Kean Bryan of Sheffield United crosses under pressure from Trent Alexander-Arnold of Liverpool: Andrew Yates/Sportimage

And David Wilkinson added: "Kean Bryan is one of the lowest earners in the first team squad, if not the lowest earner, yet he does what we all want to see in a United shirt... he tries. He puts in 100 per cent. No brainer for me. Could do with more cut from that cloth."

The fly in the ointment in all this, of course, is that even if he is offered a new deal, Bryan may decide that his footballing development is best served elsewhere.

He spoke very well in a recent interview about his desire to play games - something he hasn't done an awful lot of at Bramall Lane - and, in an ideal world for United, he would start the season as understudy to a player of immense quality and - until this season, at least - reliability, in O'Connell.

But holding his own against the likes of City and scoring against Manchester United, he looks a long way from the player who flattered to deceive against the likes of Barnet and AFC Fylde. Whatever happens with Bryan and United in the future, it is a turnaround that deserves to be applauded.