Sander Berge didn't catch Sheffield United by surprise

Chris Wilder has admitted he was not surprised Sander Berge quickly grasped the demands of Sheffield United’s 3-5-2 system, and is backing the club’s other new signings to do the same.

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 11:58 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 3:39 pm

Berge made an encouraging start to life with Wilder’s side after making his full debut against Crystal Palace last weekend; playing nearly three quarters of the 1-0 win at Selhurst Park before being replaced during the closing stages.

Panos Retsos and Richairo Zivkovic arrived on loan from Bayer Leverkusen and Changchun Yatai too late to feature in London but Jack Robinson, previously of Nottingham Forest, featured on the bench after making his first appearance as a substitute during the FA Cup victory over Millwall seven days earlier.

Acknowledging United’s interpretation of a formation, which had fallen out of fashion until being resurrected by Carlos Bilardo in the mid-Eighties, presents certain challenges for players, Wilder said: “We’ve worked away on bits of detail but Premier League players have to be intelligent as well as physically and technically very good.

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“They have to be able to adapt to different formations, different ways of playing, different challenges.

“We believed Sander would do that. On Saturday he did.”

Berge completed only one full training session with United’s squad before featuring against Palace. But United are known to have organised a series of supplementary exercises for the Norway international, which saw members of their youth academy replicate the positions his team mates would take up, in order to accelerate his understanding.

Sheffield United's Sander Berge celebrates after the final whistle during the Premier League match at Selhurst Park, London: Tess Derry/PA Wire.