Sheffield United boss backs Billy Sharp to help Rhian Brewster get on the goal trail
Chris Wilder has revealed how Sheffield United’s experienced centre-forwards are nursing Rhian Brewster through the most difficult period in his career after the youngster’s troubles in front of goal continued during last night’s FA Cup win over Bristol City.
United reached the quarter-finals of the competition for the second season in a row when Billy Sharp converted from the penalty spot following Alfie Mawson’s handball. The former Barnsley defender, on-loan from Fulham, was dismissed after VAR official Anthony Taylor instructed referee Robert Jones to review the incident on a pitchside monitor.
Making his 20th appearance since becoming the most expensive player in United’s history earlier this term, Brewster, a £23.5m signing from Liverpool, has yet to score for his new club.
But Wilder said: “Billy, Didzy (David McGoldrick) and Oli (McBurnie) will all be helping Rhian because of what they’re like as professionals and people. He (Brewster) will be okay because he’s a good player and he gets into the right positions. He’s working hard and the lads will help him get through it, because that’s what they do. When he does score, you’ll see what it means to him and everyone else.
"It’s a cut throat business but we know Rhian can do and and he will do it. I still say this lad is a natural goalscorer. He’s just not had the chances yet.”
Despite winning six of their last nine outings in all competitions, United will begin preparing for next week’s meeting with West Ham at the bottom of the Premier League table and 12 points adrift of safety.
“We got a little bit slack towards the end, when they started really bombing forward because they had nothing to lose,” Wilder added. “We could have put it to bed sooner, which was a little bit disappointing. But overall, it was a good performance and we deserved to go through.
"We haven't won enough this season, so we’ll always take a win.”
Dean Holden, the City manager, expressed his frustration both at the decision to award a spot-kick against Mawson and then show him a red card.
Expressing his admiration for United’s approach under Wilder, and describing them as an example for the visitors to follow, Holden said: “I thought it was a disappointing way to lose. We showed a great response and to lose a game of football to a division like that was a shame, it’s difficult to take.
“If it had been played at Ashton Gate, it wouldn’t have been given because there’s no VAR.
Alfie feels responsible. But he should feel like that because I don’t think it was handball.
“I know it sounds really bitter, because we lost, but I feel like VAR is killing football. Hopefully, when we get this club to the Premier League, we’ll have to deal with it.
“Sheffield United, forget where they are in the table, I think they’re a fantastic team with a fantastic coaching staff,” Holden added. “The way they play, the way they set up and go about things, I think it’s brilliant.”