McBurnie, long balls and Souza on the agenda as Sheffield United boss prepares for Burnley clash
This is what's on the agenda today as Paul Heckingbottom speaks to the press ahead of what is an absolutely huge match at the bottom of the table as Sheffield United head to Burnley on Thursday.
McBurnie and Ahmedhodzic to start?
The arrival of Oli McBurnie off the bench on Saturday against Bournemouth at least offered a little more attacking impetus and who knows how the game would have gone had United not gifted those second and third goals, with the striker clearly pencilled in to come off the bench for at least the majority of the second half. Presuming he's fit to do so, McBurnie surely has to be a starter such are his qualities at both ends of the pitch, only those in the camp know at this stage if that is feasible. As for Anel Ahmedhodzic, he too should come in from the start as much for his ability to get forward as anything else. Jayden Bogle has been pushed to the limit in recent weeks and could probably do with sitting out for a while.
Change in tactics?
Playing direct to Cameron Archer over the top isn't working... like picking apples from trees for Premier League central defenders. We can presume the idea is for the midfield to pick up the second balls but that isn't happening either. Heckingbottom must find a way of playing through teams, allowing Archer the opportunity to run onto the ball.
The above change in tactic could point to the dropping of Vinícius Souza, who was hooked at half time last week and rightly so. Is this is an occasion for a more attacking plan of action and possibly leaving out the out-of-form Brazilian?
Heckingbottom will likely play it down as another game that they need to get something from but it is a bit more than that, especially after last week's debacle. At the very least it's a must-not-lose but opportunities for points aren't plentiful.
Mood in the camp
Heckingbottom and his coaches will have had to lift the team again after the confidence-boost of a four-point haul before the international break was wiped out. They've done that before and especially last season during rocky spells in the push for promotion.
It's the first time taking on Sander Berge since his move to Burnley and the Blades players will obviously know all about him. He's definitely going to be up for it and is in form, according to our colleagues in the north west. Let's hope he has one of those little-impact games.
Burnley have been poor, much worse than the lack of pressure on Vincent Kompany from the media suggests. However, they were better overall than United last season and you'd struggle to say that this United team is much stronger than the one that finished second to the Clarets in the Championship. What United's biggest threat might be is their rivals being fired up by the sense of injustice in losing to West Ham last week in controversial circumstances.