Why forgotten Sheffield United man Mo Besic may have just had the defining moment of his Blades career
When Mo Besic was summoned from the bench at Carrow Road last weekend, some Sheffield United supporters could have been forgiven for wondering who the mysterious figure with Chris Wilder’s arm wrapped around his shoulders was.
After all, despite having been signed to spread a veneer of top-flight experience across the visitors’ midfield, the Bosnia and Herzegovina international had played only 14 minutes of Premier League football since leaving Everton on loan.
All of those came towards the end of a 1-1 draw with West Ham nearly two months ago.
But the timing of Besic’s introduction - both during Sunday’s win in Norfolk and the trip to east London - confirmed Wilder still values the 27-year-old’s qualities.
With the outcome of those matches still delicately poised, United’s manager would not have risked a positive result in either by bringing on someone he did not trust.
Solid but unspectacular against Manuel Pellegrini’s Hammers side, (which, with the hosts chasing all three points, was the point of the exercise), Besic’s cameo at Norwich City was much more eye-catching.
Yes, the dynamic of the fixture was different, with United gnawing away at the opposition’s brittle confidence following two quick-fire goals.
But rather than simply being a destructive force - putting in tackles on the edge of his own box - Besic sensed an opportunity to showcase the more creative side to his game as United won the battle between two newly promoted clubs.
The final outcome was significant; both for Wilder’s squad and potentially, after helping them climb to eighth in the table, the player himself.
Besic’s contribution to the victory over Daniel Farke’s men has almost certainly left Wilder wrestling with a selection dilemma ahead of Saturday’s clash with Aston Villa; who joined United and City in the Premier League.
Although Oliver Norwood, the player he replaced, has done nothing to warrant being dropped, Wilder and his coaching staff accept the must also find a way of rewarding Besic for his performance or risk eroding his enthusiasm.