Sheffield United star says it would be a huge mistake to ignore this man's influence
Sheffield United’s John Fleck has hailed Oliver Norwood’s influence at Bramall Lane, describing him as the heartbeat of a midfield which has taken the Premier League by storm this season.
Although Fleck and John Lundstram have been lavished with praise after helping Chris Wilder’s side climb to sixth in the table ahead of today’s game against Arsenal, the Scot revealed Norwood is responsible for orchestrating their plays.
Paying tribute to his team mate’s intelligence, Fleck also expressed surprise that two of Norwood’s former clubs had denied him the chance to perform at the highest level before the Northern Ireland international helped United gain promotion last term.
“Ollie has been brilliant for us so far,” Fleck said. “In that holding position, he dictates what we do, he sprays the ball around and he makes tackles on the edge of the box.
“ Seriously, he’s excellent.
“He’s slightly behind us and he can see when it’s right for us to press and when it’s not.
“He’s the senior partner in there and he’s very experienced. I’m sure he’ll continue doing the same.”
Speaking ahead of United’s trip to north London, Wilder acknowledged his squad’s performances have been “one of the stories of the season” before challenging them to ensure it has a successful ending.
“It’s not about where we are now,” he said. “For me, it’s where we finish.”
The former Alfreton, Halifax Town and Northampton chief signed Norwood from Brighton and Hove Albion at the beginning of last term, after he had helped both Chris Hughton’s side and Fulham - during a spell on loan at Craven Cottage - climb out of the Championship.
“He’s won promotion to the Premier League three times and didn’t get his chance,” Fleck, who joined United when they were still a third tier club, said. “Not until coming here.
“Everyone has different paths in their careers and different ways to get there.
“A lot of us have come through from League One with the club and had some good times, whereas others get here quicker.
“I just think it’s the right time in our careers because we’re all a bit more experienced.
“You can have the chance at 21, not be ready, and never get another chance again.”