Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder's message for under-pressure youngster Rhian Brewster
Rhian Brewster has been reassured his Sheffield United team mates are already convinced of his quality, despite falling to score since completing a record-breaking move from Liverpool earlier this term.
The England under-21 international became the most expensive player in United’s history when he arrived at Bramall Lane three months ago, with Chris Wilder’s side agreeing to pay the Premier League champions £23.5m across the course of his five year contract.
Despite starting last weekend’s FA Cup victory over Plymouth Argyle, which saw goals from Chris Basham and Billy Sharp help United reach the fifth round, Brewster is still yet to score in United colours.
Although Wilder acknowledged the youngster’s barren run will “inevitably” invite criticism and prompt some observers to question why he invested so heavily in the 20-year-old’s services, the United manager said: “ With Rhian, it will come. He’s a finisher. He gets into the right positions and everyone wants him to get off the mark. His general play was really good (against Plymouth). He wants to score as much as anyone and it will definitely happen for him if he keeps on doing what he’s doing. You can see, with the other things he does and brings to the table, that he’s a quality player.”
“He’s got to keep his own spirits up,” Wilder continued, reassuring Brewster that other members of United’s squad are impressed by his progress. “Of course he’ll be desperate to get off the mark because that’s what strikers are like. But keeping your own spirits up is also part and parcel of what the game, of what being a footballer, is about.
“The other players see him day in day out in training and they see him during games. They see what a good player he is.
“That first goal will be a big moment for him and, because he’s a popular boy already, you’ll see the reaction it gets from everyone else as well.”
Despite failing to find the back of the net, glancing a header just wide and seeing two shots saved by Argyle’s Michael Cooper, Brewster marked his 16th appearance for United with a lively, inventive display - also going close before Basham set Wilder’s men on course for victory. They now face Bristol City for a place in the quarter-finals, with Sharp stretching their advantage ahead of Panutche Camara’s late consolation.
Before then, however, United face a series of key battles in their campaign to avoid relegation from the Premier League. After travelling to Old Trafford, they return to Manchester for a meeting with Pep Guardiola’s City before pitting their wits against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion and then Chelsea.
“There’s no downside to winning a game of football,” Wilder, whose side are 12 points adrift of safety, said, “It doesn’t matter who it’s against or whatever match it is.
"Barring a bit towards the end, and you’ve got to give them (Plymouth) and their manager a lot of credit as well for the way they hung in up to then, I thought it was a job well done.
"Well, it was a job well done because we went through.”