Scotland slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Russia on Friday night. In the aftermath of it all, Sheffield United forward Oli McBurnie has been harshly criticised by fans, and it isn’t very fair.
The striker fed on scraps all night as the Russians all but ended Scotland’s Euro 2020 hopes via the groups. He didn’t turn in the best performance of his career, however, it certainly wasn’t as bad as some have made it out to be.
You only have to look to Twitter to see some of the vitriol the Blades striker has had to deal with since the defeat.
Oli McBurnie either feels too much pressure playing for Scotland which effects his game or he simply isn’t good enough. Whatever it is we can’t look to have him playing as our No.9.
After a promising start we’ve ended up with a really disappointing result and performance.
— Michael Stewart (@mstewart_23) September 6, 2019
If McBurnie is worth £20M I await crazy bids of over this for Shankland in January. Guy couldn’t lead a sing-song never mind Scotland up front #brutal
— Lawrie Hill (@larzo14) September 7, 2019
So even after sleeping on it I cant figure out how somebody watched mcburnie play and decided he was worth £20m and deserves a Scotland call up. Hes absolutely rotten.
— Dr Mantis Toboggan (@Gscott7) September 7, 2019
On reflection. I’m beginning to think that Chris Iwelumo offered more as a striker for Scotland than McBurnie does.
He is mince. No idea what type of striker he is either. Hoachin.
— Cal (@CMcCeltic) September 7, 2019
Last point on it.
All good players in their own right. All garbage for Scotland. Seen it too many times before. Players chosen on reputation alone.
Christie on the bench shows you how ridiculous that Lineup was yesterday.
Russia are bang average.
— Buddy Gall 社会主義者 (@TheGallatron) September 7, 2019
Scotland need a pacey Striker who can hit the target more often than not. Weeman is so wasted when you have frauds like McBurnie upfront
— Ridz 🏴 (@RidzaH17) September 7, 2019
This just isn’t fair though. McBurnie was left helpless against the Russians.
McBurnie is wasted in current Scotland setup
As a solo number nine with Scotland, it’s never going to be easy. It’s almost like a poisoned chalice, with the expectation of the role so high in some fans’ eyes that achieving success is almost unattainable.
McBurnie is not a world-class talent, but he is the best striker Scotland have. With the service that was provided though, what was he supposed to do?
He spent most of the game isolated, trying to bring down long balls, holding off multiple defenders, before finding some space to lay the ball off. As it happened, that flick on was usually to himself, as he’d be forced to chase it down.
The Blades forward did the job well enough. He won 13 of his 24 duels in the air (BA Analytics), proving that he was trying to make a positive impact on the game.
McBurnie may be built like a number nine, but his technical work is his strong point. If Scotland were able to get the ball into his feet and play around him, he would show the form that seen him hit 24 goals last term.
In this current system Steve Clarke implements, the Sheffield United hitman is wasted. After taking the lead they dropped deep, leaving the number nine totally isolated.
His game is all about coming short and helping to build an attack. He tried to do that several times in the opening 20 minutes or so, causing havoc in the Russian box in the lead up to John McGinn’s goal with nice movement across the backline.
As the game wore on though, his influence declined.
McBurnie has been scapegoated to some extent in the wake of Scotland’s Euro defeat. Looking back on it, he was arguably was one of Scotland’s better players.