Sheffield United and Birmingham City supporters are eagerly anticipating the meeting between the two sides in the Championship this evening, what with both seeking to get back to winning ways.
Chris Wilder’s Blades had won four straight matches prior to their trip to Bristol City on Saturday, only to go down 1-0 to Lee Johnson’s side to slip to fifth place in the second tier, while Garry Monk’s Birmingham remain without a win this term after only mustering a 1-1 draw at home to West Brom on Friday night, thus leaving them just a place above the bottom three.
Yet both sides were reasonably active during the summer transfer window to suggest that there is likely to be more to come from the duo, with Wilder’s United bringing in the likes of Dean Henderson, Oliver Norwood, and Ben Woodburn, while Monk added the likes of Kristian Pedersen, Omar Bogle, and Connor Mahoney to his Blues squad.
And it’s the additions of messrs Woodburn and Mahoney which are of particular interest, so let’s see how the two compare…
Woodburn has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the last few years, what with the forward netting on just his second appearance for Liverpool back in 2016 to suggest that he has a very bright future ahead of him.
And while the 18-year-old has since become a prominent part of the Wales senior squad, scoring once in eight caps for Ryan Giggs’ side, his club career hasn’t quite taken off with just a handful of other Reds appearances to his name, thus prompting the Merseysiders to loan him out to Wilder’s Sheffield United for this season.
Yet the young sensation hasn’t quite lived up to expectations so far in starting just one of their seven Championship games, coming on as a substitute in four of the other six, yet failing to make a direct contribution.
Thus, there are likely to be a few question marks among some supporters regarding Woodburn’s ability, but with Wilder praising the exciting youngster recently, and the 18-year-old clearly full of potential and talent, it is surely just a matter of time before he produces the goods at Bramall Lane.
TT Verdict: B+
Like Woodburn, 21-year-old Mahoney sought regular football this term in leaving Bournemouth for Birmingham on loan during the summer, but he is another who has seen things fail to work out so far.
The forward has mustered just 19 minutes of Championship action so far for Monk’s side and has been an unused substitute in four of the six league games since he has been at St Andrew’s, thus calling into question whether or not he does indeed have the ability to make a difference to this Blues team.
Mahoney hasn’t played a great deal of football in recent years to suggest that Monk could well be easing him into the action, and while 19 minutes of Championship action isn’t much to go on, he has looked pretty sharp in that time to suggest that he could be called upon more readily by manager Monk.
At the moment though, things aren’t looking particularly good for the 21-year-old.
TT Verdict: C+
Clearly, both Woodburn and Mahoney dropped down a level to the Championship in a bid for more regular game time, yet that hasn’t been the case for the young duo so far.
18-year-old Woodburn clearly has much ability and talent after impressing for Liverpool and indeed Wales in the early stages of his career, while Mahoney’s short cameos at Birmingham suggest that he could play a part as the season wears on.
Nonetheless, the exciting Woodburn is a player many second tier sides would have likely looked to bring in during the summer to suggest that he is streets ahead of the slightly older Mahoney.
Sheffield United and Birmingham fans… what do you think? Let us know!