Rhian Brewster: Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder explains absence from starting line-up
Rhian Brewster’s move from Liverpool should be viewed as part of a long-term project designed to increase Sheffield United’s firepower rather than an immediate quick fix for their problems in front of goal, manager Chris Wilder has argued, after defending the youngster’s contribution since leaving Anfield.
Despite being signed for a club record fee of £23.5m, Brewster enters Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Plymouth Argyle searching for his first goal in United colours following his move to South Yorkshire.
Following an energetic display against Burnley towards the end of last month, the England under-21 centre-forward started his new club’s next two games on the bench before earning Wilder’s praise for his contribution to the recent win over Newcastle - United’s first and only Premier League win so far this term.
Brewster also appeared as a substitute when Tottenham Hotspur triumphed at Bramall Lane last weekend but, explaining why the 20-year-old has been used only sparingly as United attempt to lift themselves off the bottom of the table, Wilder said: “You construct a squad with what you’ve got to invest, and to make you better.
“Our options are different to others and they were the best options for us. We went for a younger feel, as people can probably understand why, and we believe we brought good options such as Rhian in.
“We brought Rhian here with the idea of easing him in rather than chucking him in, although we’ve had to do that at times.”
Despite his burgeoning reputation and being described as a “natural goalscorer” by his former manager Jurgen Klopp, Brewster made only four senior appearances for the reigning champions. With none of those coming in the top-flight, his only experience of league football came during a spell on loan with Swansea City last season, where he scored 10 times in 20 appearances.
With United entering this weekend’s fourth round meeting averaging only 0.66 goals per game so far this term, there have been calls for Brewster to be utilised on a more regular basis. Although injuries could yet force his hand, Wilder is determined to stick to the development programme coaching staff designed for a player they believe will eventually become United’s first choice marksman. Lacking the financial might to compete for players such as Callum Wilson, who swapped AFC Bournemouth for Newcastle earlier this year, United’s recruitment policy has focused on acquiring players with the potential to become elite level performers before their value soars. Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale falls into the same category although, given their predicament in the table, Wilder’s list of targets for this month’s window are all proven top-flight talents.
“We know you get judged straight away, right now, in the Premier League,” he said, “But these lads can and will get better in time.
"That’s the way we’ve chosen to do it and we think, given the circumstances and the situation, that was the most sensible way as well. I know these lads get judged immediately in this day and age but it’s too early for people to be doing that with the likes of Rhian. Far too early.”