Sheffield United boss reveals the reasons why record signing Rhian Brewster has struggled since his move from Liverpool
Chris Wilder, the Sheffield United manager, has explained why it is still too early to make an accurate assessment of Rhian Brewster’s performances since his record breaking move from Liverpool in October.
Acknowledging events at Bramall Lane over the past five months have inhibited the youngster’s progress, Wilder insisted the situation at the club is “challenging enough” for experienced footballers, “nevermind those” at the beginning of their professional careers.
But predicting the wisdom of United’s decision to invest £23.5m in the 20-year-old will soon become apparent, Wilder also claimed the difficulties his most expensive ever signing has faced in South Yorkshire will make him a stronger and more psychologically resolute player.
“Every experience is one you can learn from,” said Wilder, whose side will enter Sunday’s visit to Leicester City at the bottom of the Premier League table. “It’s not gone as well as he’d have liked, of course it hasn’t.
“But there’s no hiding place and it’s a tough gig for a lad of his age. It’s tough enough and challenging enough for those with hundreds of appearances under their belts, let alone ones who are still finding their feet in the game.”
Twelve points adrift of safety with only 10 matches remaining, United appear destined to return to the Championship next season following two seasons at the highest level. Although both the fee and the timing of his transfer convinced some observers to portray Brewster as an immediate answer to his new club’s problems in front of goal, Wilder always viewed him as more of a long term project, despite conceding it would increase United’s survival prospects if he made an immediate impact.
Having started their last two matches, Brewster travels to the KP Stadium still searching for his first goal in United colours following a barren 22 game run. He scored 11 times in as many outings during a spell on loan in the Championship with Swansea City last term.
Speaking earlier this month, fellow centre-forward David McGoldrick, despite reminding that the price United paid to acquire Brewster’s services is unremarkable by top-flight standards, described the England under-21 international as “the best finisher I’ve seen at his age” after observing his team mate in training.
Wilder’s policy of rotating his strikers, which has become even more pronounced as he searches for a winning formula, has undoubtedly hampered Brewster’s ability to establish effective lines of communication with any of his fellow marksmen. But so too, Wilder recently reminded, have social distancing restrictions imposed following the Covid-19 pandemic.
“There’s things we’d usually do that we just can’t at the moment,” he said. “We’re travelling on different buses (to games) which can make it harder for someone new coming in.
“Rhi has settled in really well, and he’s a popular lad with a good personality. But I can imagine it’s hard to really feel you’ve got to know everyone, even though we try to make that happen as best we can, when you can’t mix with the rest of the boys away from training. Or even in training for that matter, as you usually would.”