Why Sheffield United should have signed Kieffer Moore

Sheffield United should have signed Kieffer Moore in the final week of the summer transfer window. Instead, they are now relying on Oli McBurnie to stay available in order for them to have a presence at the top of the pitch.

Against Newcastle United, we saw exactly why it’s important to have someone capable of holding the ball up like McBurnie. United’s number nine was unavailable for the match last Sunday after receiving a strange second yellow card in the game before against Spurs.

There were some questionable decisions against the Magpies in the 8-0 defeat, and arguably the first three goals shouldn’t have happened due to poor officiating. But, the defence had an abysmal game making error after error and they got punished for it.

When in possession, it was noticeable that Sheffield United had no idea what to do with the ball; whenever they knocked the ball long towards Cameron Archer, it was obviously going to come straight back. Therefore, the Blades attempted to pick up second and third balls, though, often they were beaten by a far more energetic midfield.

Then they became reluctant to go direct, so they decided to try and play through the thirds – that didn’t go to plan either with simple passes being misplaced straight to Newcastle forwards.

We can point fingers at the defence being shocking and the midfield being overrun. The bigger picture is: not having McBurnie impacted that performance and result far more than people realise. Having already put in “backs to the wall” performances against Manchester City and Spurs, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out McBurnie gave Sheffield United’s defence some relief, because he was always available for the direct pass where he can hold up the ball momentarily and win freekicks.

The Scottish international is in the 96th percentile in aerial duels won across the elite leagues and European competitions, registering 6.82 per 90, coming in at a 50% win rate [FBref]. McBurnie’s strength and battling mentality helps the Blades gain possession in a high field position. Whereas without him, the longer passes out of defence result in the opposition regaining the ball and reloading a dangerous attack, resulting in constant pressure on the Blades goal.

McBurnie averages 1.5 fouls drawn per 90, although this isn’t a high number, at least he has the ability to use his body to draw a defender into fouling him. Thus giving United a chance to get up the pitch.

Why Kieffer Moore should’ve been signed

Forget all this “we’ve got no money”, Moore wouldn’t exactly have cost a bucket load to sign, and his wages wouldn’t be high either.

Before the transfer deadline, I urged the Blades to sign Kieffer Moore, here’s why:

Moore would give the Blades almost a carbon copy of what McBurnie offers United. I would say the big difference is Moore is more of a traditional target man than McBurnie is, whereas McBurnie is a modern day version of that.

The Welsh international ranks in the 91st percentile in aerial duels won across elite leagues and European competitions, registering 4.87 per 90 [FBref]. In that regard McBurnie’s numbers are slightly better. Incidentally, Moore has a higher aerial win percentage coming in at 55% as opposed to McBurnie’s 50%.

Additionally, Moore draws more fouls than McBurnie does, having 1.78 fouls drawn per 90 – ranking in the 74th percentile as opposed to McBurnie ranking in the 52nd percentile.





Tags Bournemouth Kieffer Moore Oli McBurnie Sheffield United