Sheffield United: Scotland striker makes an admission after being impressed by Slavisa Jokanovic's humble approach
Sheffield United centre-forward Oli McBurnie insists he has no plans to change his down-to-earth approach on and off-the-pitch, despite admitting it sometimes gets him “into trouble” away from Bramall Lane.
Speaking ahead of tomorrow’s visit to Swansea City, where he spent four years before returning to England two summers ago, McBurnie told The Star it is important that footballers stay in touch with life outside of the game even though, by doing exactly that, he has sometimes found himself in difficult situations.
McBurnie hit the headlines earlier this year when he became involved in a row with a supporter of a rival club during a day out in the North Yorkshire town of Knaresborough, with footage of the incident being captured on a mobile phone and later circulated on social media.
“I’m more of a bloke who happens to play football rather than a footballer trying to be a bloke, if you know what I mean,” McBurnie said. “I guess that’s important. I’m just kind of myself and hopefully some people respect that. I think most people appreciate it, because I’m not trying to be anyone other than me.”
“Some of the time, I get myself into trouble. But obviously I don’t want to be doing that, so I’ll be keeping that side of things down to a minimum. I’ll hopefully be cutting it out altogether. I don’t enjoy it and I don’t want it, you can be sure of that.”
McBurnie’s promise to start making the news for all the right reasons comes after a difficult close season, with an injury sustained during United’s relegation from the Premier League preventing him from representing Scotland at the recent European Championships. McBurnie scored a penalty during the shoot-out with Serbia which saw Steve Clarke’s squad end their 23 year long wait to reach the finals of a major tournament, but was forced to sit out the competition because of a foot problem.
Slavisa Jokanovic, a promotion winner with both Watford and Fulham, took charge of United last month.
Relaying details of the former Chelsea midfielder’s first words to the team he inherited, McBurnie revealed the new manager also has the common touch.
“On a collective level, he was saying he is here to help us,” McBurnie said. “He said that he took the job because of us and that we can help him. He’s been around and he knows ways to help us. It made perfect sense, and I really liked that too.”
“From a personal point of view, he took us one on one,” McBurnie added. “He’s worked against most of us in the past and he knows what most of us do or can do on the pitch. He wanted to know us as people rather than footballers. Just a kind if friendly chat. He was telling us how he wants things to be run and what he expects from us.
"When we heard that, it was clear that everyone was on the same page. So that’s really good. Everyone here wants the same thing and we’ve all bought into how he is going about things straight away.”