Sheffield United's critics are told why their opinions on these players are wrong
Critics of two Sheffield United players have been warned they risk being left with egg on their faces after Chris Wilder, the Premier League club’s manager, reminded how they accused Sander Berge of being unsuited to English football before watching the Norwegian blossom into one of Bramall Lane’s most influential players.
Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and Rhian Brewster, who became the most expensive purchase in United’s history when he completed a £23.5m move from Liverpool earlier this term, both enter Saturday’s match at West Bromwich Albion under the spotlight having been reproached for their displays in recent weeks.
Wilder has gone on record to express his concerns about the treatment the two youngsters have received on social media in recent weeks, describing some of the comments posted on their personal channels as “unfair” and lacking perspective. In order to underscore the point, the 53-year-old highlighted how it took Berge time to settle into his new surroundings following a £22m move from Genk midway through last season.
“There was judgement on Sander straight away when he came in,” Wilder said, after labelling the Norwegian as United’s best performer since their return to action in September. “It happened straight away and we are having the same thing now, with Aaron and Rhian.
“If anyone is questioning those two, they should look at what’s happened to Sander. There were questions early on, that he wouldn’t cut it. Look at him now. Look at how well he’s doing. So we really need to give these lads a bit of time to settle and bed in.”
The game is littered with examples of players who, after initially being written-off, went on to prove their doubters wrong. Paul Coutts, Kieron Freeman and Leon Clarke are among those to follow a similar path at United in recent years while there were also doubts about Chris Basham’s worth until he developed into one of the country’s most attack-minded centre-halves. Despite seeing his future in South Yorkshire thrown into doubt by a contractual dispute, John Lundstram is another player whose perception among supporters has changed beyond recognition in recent months. Wilder is convinced the same thing will happen with Ramsdale and Brewster, who are both expected to feature at The Hawthorns.
“Go back to Sander, he’s now the complete midfielder,” Wilder said. “He can play as an eight or a six and his attitude, he’s happy to do both, is superb. Who would have thought people would have been saying that about him at the start of the year? So it just goes to show. He’s a complete midfielder, like Jordan Hendersin at Liverpool, whose attitude is the same.”
“If you look at the fees, £20m isn’t a big number for a young Premier League player anymore,” Wilder added. “It might feel like that here, because we’ve not been in that market for a long time. But it really isn’t. These are two lads, two really talented young lads, who will do great for us over a number of seasons. People just have to be realistic and not jump to conclusions, that’s all.”