‘He’s got to keep his spirits up. That is part and parcel of what the game is about,’ Chris Wilder said of Rhian Brewster, in the blistering cold of Bramall Lane on Saturday evening. Well, that’s easier said than done.
The striker in question is still waiting for his first goal, four months after a £20million move from Liverpool, and if ever there were an occasion to break the duck, this was it. Plymouth did next to nothing to contribute to that venerable tradition of lower league sides going toe-to-toe with top-flight teams.
The chances kept coming for Brewster. A cross floated up by Enda Stevens which he headed into the ground when the net beckoned. A miscued scuff after the excellent John Fleck drove into the box and laid off.
Chris Wilder must continue to back Rhian Brewster despite the striker’s struggles this season
There was a clean, swerving strike from 15 yards but the appetising ball which Brewster arrived to strike with the game an hour or so old told the story. Argyle goalkeeper Michael Cooper collected it comfortably. The pained look on Brewster’s face said everything.
He was substituted on 79 minutes for David McGoldrick who, with Billy Sharp, has relegated him to third-choice striker.
Football seems to take some gratuitous pleasure in a struggle like this. All part of the narrative. But it’s time to give the player a break. At the age of 20, he took the bold decision to strike out from Liverpool, only to find himself at a club struggling so badly that goalscoring opportunities are pitifully scarce.
Brewster is still waiting to score his first Sheffield United goal and failed to score v Plymouth
The entire team have scored a mere 10 league goals all season. The old adage about strikers and confidence applies and Wilder can help. Having been celebrated for the bold decision to buy him, he should apply the same air of assurance about giving him a run of games in the team. Brewster has never started more than three in succession this season.
‘We have belief in him,’ said Wilder, whose team entertain Bristol City in the fifth round. ‘The players have belief in him and see him day in, day out and know what a good player he is. They see it every time he trains.’
His team face the two Manchester teams this week, away from home, in the space of four days. They really have nothing to lose.
It’s time for Brewster to get his run, before all hope has gone.
Sheffield United boss Wilder insists that he has faith that Brewster will soon make an impact