The most revealing - and exciting - part of Oliver Burke's first Sheffield United interview
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After pitching up in South Yorkshire earlier this summer, the part-time false nine and sometime wing-back has been reassured he will now be operating straight through the middle. It is a tactical decision, revealed during one of Burke’s earliest conversations with Chris Wilder, which the 23-year-old believes can finally bring the best out of his talents following a series of false starts elsewhere.
“I see myself up top, as a striker, running in behind and bringing something a bit different with my pace,” Burke said, as he prepares to make his debut for United at Burnley tomorrow evening. “That’s where I’ve been told I’ll be going in, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Regarded as one of his country’s most naturally gifted and physically equipped players, Burke has yet to properly harness the skills which once prompted Leipzig, among the continent’s most forward thinking clubs, to invest nearly £15m in his services four years ago. But many within the game, including his international manager Steve Clarke and the former Chelsea defender’s predecessor Gotdon Strachan, suspect the blame for that lies with a career development programme which has seen Burke jump from club to club - struggling to nail down a regular position in the process - rather than any issues on his part. It is a theory which has prompted many to predict that the move to United, as part of the deal which took Callum Robinson to The Hawthorns, will be the moment he begins to realise his potential. Wilder, who confirmed Burke is set to start the Carabao Cup second round tie, has a habit of proving previously under-performing footballers with the right framework and environment to thrive at the highest level.
“My main goal, besides doing well of course, is settling down and making this my home for many years to come,” Burke said. “It’s a great club, I’m blessed to be here and I’m sick of packing my bags all the time and moving.
“There’s competition here, but for me that’s brilliant. It means we’ll all be ready and, like I say, I think I can bring something different to what we’ve already got. I know a few of the lads from Scotland and other clubs along the way. I still have to improve as a player and I believe I’ve got the right people around me here to help me do that.
"What the manager does, and how he is, that one one of the things that was really talked about when the chance to come here first came up.”