Oliver Burke’s display in tonight’s 2-0 win at St Mirren left a lot to be desired, but there’s a simple explanation for it.
Ever since arriving at the club from West Brom on loan in January, Burke has had to get used to being a lone striker. It’s not a position he was ever used to during his spells in England or Germany. Yet, regardless, it’s the position Brendan Rodgers and latterly Neil Lennon have chosen for him.
Tonight was also Burke’s first start in a month. Before the Saints contest, his last start was the 0-0 home draw vs Aberdeen in early March.
But tonight, he failed to show that he could continue working as a lone front-man.
There have been flashes of quality from him at different stages since January in the position. His assist at Tynecastle and brace against St Mirren are two highlights so far. But in the main, he’s struggled to look convincing as an all-round striker.
The simple fact is that Burke just doesn’t yet have the skill-set to play in that area effectively. His touch is too clumsy, and he’s always looking to run back the way after picking up the ball.
Burke’s technical ability is perhaps one of the weakest areas of his game. Instead, the West Brom-owned star is all about power and pace.
He clearly favours a wide position
Therefore, it’s clear that his most natural and favoured position would be down the right side or even the left. On several occasions tonight, he marauded past a full-back when he got into a wide area.
You can also see when Burke plays the striking role that he’s itching to drift out wide. That’s just the kind of player he is and the area of the field he feels most comfortable in. He’s also scored just four goals in 16 appearances up top – he’s hardly bringing goals to the table.
It’s not as if we don’t have striking options either. Odsonne Edouard and Timothy Weah are both more than enough to deal with what the Scottish Premiership has to offer. There’s no reason to try and shoehorn Burke into that position.
James Forrest is severely lacking some competition down the right, and Burke should be primarily used there. He proved against St Mirren once again that he isn’t a striker, but showed enough in his locker to suggest he can make a fine influence in a wide position.
What would you do with Burke? Do you feel he’s too inconsistent? Should he be moved position? Let us know your thoughts on him in the comments below.