Scotland assistant manager James McFadden has been critical of the way Oliver Burke has been coached in the past.
The new Celtic signing, on loan until the end of the season, has made a fine start to life in Scotland.
Operating as a lone-striker, Burke has three goals in just four Celtic starts. As well as two cameo appearances from the bench, however, it’s fair to say that he’s finally getting some proper game-time.
And after years of being in limbo and suffering from a lack of minutes on the pitch, McFadden believes it started due to a lack of quality coaching. Speaking in the Evening Times, the Scotland assistant manager was critical of those who’ve coached Burke growing up.
“The biggest thing that was stopping him was he wasn’t playing. The way he has been playing since he came up has been brilliant. You can see that he is developing a game sense. Some of his play has been, maybe not eye-catching, but he is holding it up, he is bringing others into play and he is making good movements that you would expect a striker to play.
“Maybe when Oli was younger because he was so strong and quick, coaches would say ‘oh, he is a winger, we’ll just stick him out wide. We’ll not teach him anything.
“And that happens to a lot of fast players like Oli who have an athletic body shape. I imagine he has not had an awful lot of instruction because of that. Just give it to Oli and he’ll do the rest. It is learning. It is alright telling a player do this and do that.”
A player in need of proper direction
When you watch Burke play first-hand, it’s difficult to disagree with McFadden here.
Burke is a total powerhouse. He can drive through defences and outdo them for pace. But when it comes to showing some technical ability, it’s clear the Scotland international could use a bit of work.
His shooting, passing, and first-touch certainly aren’t of the quality a potential Premier League footballer should be. If Scotland are going to be relying on him to produce in the future, then Burke certainly needs to brush up on those attributes.
This is what makes the combination of Burke and Brendan Rodgers such an invaluable one for him. The Celtic manager is so keen on developing footballer’s technical abilities and game-intelligence.
When he heads back to West Brom in the summer, they can expect a much more rounded player. A footballer with more awareness of what’s going on around him and improved decision-making.
Until then, however, McFadden is right to touch on where Burke lacks. Do previous coaches have something to answer for? Most probably.