A tale of two strikers, and empty vessels wanting Wilder out - Heroes and Villains from Sheffield United's defeat to West Ham

Sheffield United's poor start to the Premier League season continued yesterday when they lost 1-0 at home to West Ham United.

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 11:31 am

The result means that United remain bottom of the table after nine games, ahead of next weekend's crunch clash against fellow strugglers West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns.

We take a look at some of the heroes and villains from the game...

John Fleck

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It's easily overlooked with the fall-out from the result, but what a boost it is to have this man back in the United side.

He wasn't at his best, which is completely understandable considering his injury lay-off, but his prescence in and around the Blades team is a real boost at a time when positives aren't exactly easy to come by.

With Lys Mousset also set to feature against West Brom next week, United's squad is suddenly a lot stronger with the pair returning from injury - and hopefully it can provide a bit of a shot in the arm to inspire that long overdue first win of the campaign.

Injuries strike again

Sheffield United's Oliver McBurnie looks on dejected after missing a chance against West Ham: Darren Staples/Sportimage

The treatment room giveth and the treatment room taketh away. No sooner had Fleck and Mousset returned, Ethan Ampadu struggled off with a hip injury and although Chris Wilder admitted it was far too early to give a proper prognosis on the issue, he would appear to be a doubt for next weekend's game.

It wasn't the easiest afternoon for the Chelsea loanee even before his injury, playing an unfamiliar position that is difficult, if not impossible, to simply slot into. But he has undoubted quality too, and United will want him available sooner rather than later.

Social media ****storm

The cesspit that is Facebook was again brimming with vitriol on Sunday evening - unbelievably, most clamouring for Wilder to lose his job. The reasons why that would be a catastrophic move completely dwarf any possible pros, but put simply - there is no other manager out there, that United could attract, that would get more out of this group of players.

After the journey he has taken United on, he frankly deserves more respect and in the grand scheme of things, it is a minority of fans who are calling for his head. But, as they say, empty vessels make the most noise and frankly, to give a sneak preview of the column I will be writing later on this very subject, those doing so need to give their head a wobble.

A tale of two strikers

At the minute Oli McBurnie looks like the definition of that old cliche, 'he just needs a goal'. He appears to be short of confidence and his goalless run extended yesterday, despite three chances. Twice he forced saves from Łukasz Fabiański, one with a superb header, and when he did beat the Pole, his shot cannoned back off the crossbar and to safety.

In contrast, Rhian Brewster showed bright glimpses after coming off the bench. Good vision and pass set McBurnie free one-on-one, and another nice flick set up a chance for Sander Berge to break clear.

But United need more from each member of their forward line in the coming weeks if they are to break away from the bottom of the table.