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John Fleck, Sheffield United & Potential Fulfilled

February 10, 2020


John Fleck’s career seems to have been spent
trying to fulfil potential. Finally, the Sheffield United man seems to be doing just that. Five Premier League goals and two assists
from midfield by the end of January was a decent return by anyone’s standards, but
for a player who not so long ago seemed destined to play out his prime years in League One,
Fleck’s seamless adjustment to the top level has been nothing short of remarkable. The subject of an unsuccessful £4 million
bid from West Ham United a year ago just as the January window was about to close, the
28-year-old’s form has been such that his value in the transfer market has increased
exponentially. Not bad for a player who arrived on a free
transfer in Chris Wilder’s maiden summer at the helm in 2016. Three-and-a-half years later, both are excelling
in the Premier League and Fleck has become an even more important cog in the United machine
since Wilder moved away from playing a No 10 behind two strikers in favour of a flat
three-man midfield. The new role grants Fleck licence to get forward
much more — a point underlined by a goals tally that is already a personal best for
a season. No wonder Wilder is so keen to tie the Scotland international down to a longer
contract, with his current deal set to expire next summer. “He has been incredible,” the United manager
says about a player once dubbed ‘the new Wayne Rooney’ after making his competitive
debut for Rangers at the tender age of 16. “By embracing every level he has played
at, he has moved forward each time. He also has a wand of a left peg and when he hits
the ball, it stays hit. Proper power.” That kind of praise feels long overdue, especially
for those who remember the hype surrounding him in those early days at Rangers. A year or so after making his first team debut
for the Glasgow giants at 15 on a pre-season tour of Germany came the notable accolade
of being the youngest player to feature in a senior final in Britain. That winner’s
medal, after coming on for the final five minutes of the 2008 Scottish Cup final victory
over Queen of the South, was expected to be the first of many. The reality, however, was very different.
He did enjoy a couple of decent runs in the Rangers first team in 2009 and then again
18 or so months later. But, by the summer of 2011, it had become clear that a spell
away from Ibrox would be in his best interests. Sheffield United offered a route out of Glasgow
but a mix-up with the paperwork as the minutes clicked down towards the end of the transfer
window eventually scuppered the move. Fleck left Rangers for good the following summer
in the wake of their financial collapse. Four years at Coventry City, by then mired
in crisis, followed, before Wilder brought Fleck to Yorkshire soon after succeeding Nigel
Adkins at Bramall Lane. The early signs weren’t overly encouraging.
Fleck struggled with the running during his first pre-season training camp with Wilder
vividly recalling the Scot “gasping for breath” in one demanding session. Now, though, the United manager says Fleck
“just goes and goes and goes”. Those energy levels have helped him get forward regularly
enough to create 30 chances for others — second highest in the squad behind Norwood — and
have 17 attempts on goal of his own. Fleck’s shooting accuracy of 64.7 per cent is the
highest among Wilder’s players. All this points to a career finally starting
to resemble the one expected all those years ago when Fleck was coming through at Rangers. Recognition from Scotland, long overdue in
the eyes of Sheffield United supporters, arrived last autumn with a first senior call-up. His
debut came in a Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Russia in Moscow. One man who has been following Fleck’s progress
with interest ever since those early comparisons with Rooney is former Sheffield United assistant
manager Stuart McCall. As Gordon Strachan’s right-hand man with the national team, he
kept a keen eye on all those hoping to make the breakthrough at international level. “I remember watching John play for Scotland
Under-16s at Scunthorpe,” McCall, a five-time title winner at Ibrox as a player and later
appointed their manager, told The Athletic. “England won quite comfortably because they
were more powerful and that bit stronger. We did not have the physicality and were blown
away, in truth. “But, to me”, continues McCall, “he
was the best player on the pitch. He was only young but there was a real player in there,
no doubt about that. “I have followed his career ever since.
What I most like about him (now) is (that) he dictates and dominates games. Not everyone
is capable of doing that in the Premier League.” One of those United player who did not last
the journey between the divisions is James Wilson, now at Ipswich Town. He was one of
Wilder’s first signings in the same summer Fleck arrived from Coventry. “Flecky always looked a good player,”
the Welsh defender told The Athletic. “He was a big part of the team that won promotion. “Watching Flecky score goals and get all
this praise is no surprise to me. It might be to those who have not been familiar with
what has been happening at Sheffield United but not me. Flecky is a special player and
it is great to see things going so well for him.” Chris Hussey, another who moved to Bramall
Lane the same summer as Fleck but moved on after a year, agrees. “He was no different
back then to what he is now,” says the 31-year-old, now with Cheltenham Town. “Quiet and just
wanting to get on with his job with the minimum of fuss.” Fleck, for his part, admits feeling his time
at Sheffield United has flown by. “Those days in League One seem far away
now,” he says. “But it is only two to three years ago. We have come such a long
way in a short period of time. Now part of the international fold under Steve
Clarke, Fleck has a chance to make history in that arena, too. Not since the 1998 World
Cup have Scotland qualified for a major tournament, but March will bring a chance to book a place
at Euro 2020 via the play-offs; a home semi-final against Israel, with the winners to visit
Norway or Serbia five days later for a spot in the finals.

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83 Comments

  • Reply Mr Cappa February 7, 2020 at 6:31 am

    First

  • Reply Chedz Teves February 7, 2020 at 6:31 am

    Hello

  • Reply Nick M February 7, 2020 at 6:33 am

    Yayyyyy, the athletic finally makes a comeback here

  • Reply Vazir Vazir February 7, 2020 at 6:33 am

    Cool video but spurs are shit

  • Reply TheTj500 February 7, 2020 at 6:35 am

    I welcome the return of our Athletic overlords.

  • Reply Kenneth Baah February 7, 2020 at 6:35 am

    FM Wonderkid

  • Reply Abduthegreat 786 February 7, 2020 at 6:36 am

    So excited to see a Tifo football video about my club! UTB⚔️

  • Reply A B February 7, 2020 at 6:36 am

    If you love the athletic so much why don’t you marry it

  • Reply Brandon Blanco February 7, 2020 at 6:39 am

    I hope the Blades make it to Europe. And Blades fan please keep Chris Wilder and for next season don't suffer second season syndrome.

  • Reply Aditya Kumar Jha February 7, 2020 at 6:41 am

    This video appeared on Tifo's YouTube channel , the best place to fall in Love with football Online .

  • Reply scott Choi February 7, 2020 at 6:50 am

    Really like sheffield United.

  • Reply Dynamic cms February 7, 2020 at 6:53 am

    My life originally appeared in the athletic

  • Reply Matthew Lumsden February 7, 2020 at 6:55 am

    Can we get a video on sheffield united's tactic's

  • Reply Fakhrur Razi Mohd Fauzi February 7, 2020 at 6:55 am

    In my opinion, Sheffield United is one true underdog story for this season. There is no deny that they will soon joining Europe one day.

  • Reply Milly Mahinra February 7, 2020 at 6:57 am

    I was really hoping you would also talk about the tactics of Wilder with Berge

  • Reply The Great Hadoken February 7, 2020 at 6:58 am

    This video originally featured in the Ath-Fleck-it.

  • Reply Bob J February 7, 2020 at 7:07 am

    Maturity in Scotland takes a bit longer these days, Charlie Adams became a good player later in his football life.

  • Reply M J Pes player February 7, 2020 at 7:18 am

    Athetic is back

  • Reply John S'Moore February 7, 2020 at 7:18 am

    This comment was brought to you by The Athletic

  • Reply Nathan Brown February 7, 2020 at 7:20 am

    The athletic originally appeared on the athletic the best to read about the athletic online

  • Reply Seb February 7, 2020 at 7:21 am

    Do Sheffield utd sensible transfers

  • Reply LPR Geddes February 7, 2020 at 7:22 am

    It seems to me that many Scottish players are peaking later in their careers with their commitment and heart – a bit like what Robert Snodgrass is doing at West Ham at the moment.

  • Reply indrohari 1908 February 7, 2020 at 7:27 am

    Nothing can beat late blomer like Toto Squilaci, Fabio Grosso, and Luca Toni …

  • Reply Robi_CK February 7, 2020 at 7:29 am

    The Athletic first appeared on this video, the best football to read about the place

  • Reply Bijak R A February 7, 2020 at 8:05 am

    I signed him for Dundee FC on FM11. Undisputed first team starter back then.
    Glad to see him doing well today.

    By the way, isn't the name "Strachan" pronounced as "strawn"?

  • Reply Dion Stones February 7, 2020 at 8:12 am

    YOU MISSED BLACKPOOL OUT! HE SIGNED FOR BLACKPOOL!

  • Reply Mystery Guy? February 7, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Me when I see the athletic returns:

    A suprise to be sure, but a welcome one

  • Reply Edward Snowden February 7, 2020 at 8:30 am

    Strangely, no one is talking about this team despite their really good performance so far in the league. Fleck, Egan, Stevens, McBurnie, they're playing such a great football right now. Egan might be deserved to get a call from England national team. Least for the friendlies.

  • Reply Man with the Plan February 7, 2020 at 9:16 am

    very good player

  • Reply Dean Bartlett February 7, 2020 at 9:29 am

    I love Sheffield United. Love watching them play!

  • Reply DoubleYolk February 7, 2020 at 9:47 am

    Waiting for you guys to do a video on how Leo Messi unlikely but possibly could go to Man City which would be sponsored by the athletic

  • Reply clayripblair February 7, 2020 at 9:48 am

    I love Sheffield United, and I am a Liverpool fan first and foremost. really good fans, great players, and good banter. wish the best for them

  • Reply PS1 HAGRID February 7, 2020 at 9:49 am

    The athletic jokes originally appeared on the athletic

  • Reply DoubleYolk February 7, 2020 at 9:52 am

    Fleck being one of the few if not the only player who’s nickname is longer than his actually name

  • Reply lucscya February 7, 2020 at 10:00 am

    I bought John Fleck in FM2008 as he was top Ranger's wonderkid.

  • Reply prangmaster flash February 7, 2020 at 10:23 am

    signed him since fm2012 🤫

  • Reply Robert Woodbridge February 7, 2020 at 10:27 am

    Loved him at coventry we always thought he would leave earlier then he did he was head and shoulders above everyone else. Always gave his all as well when he didnt have such a good game

  • Reply Joona Hannula February 7, 2020 at 10:38 am

    That Scotland Adibas shirt got me :DDD

  • Reply azalikmar2 February 7, 2020 at 10:40 am

    An FM favorite for sure.. Glad to see him thriving

  • Reply _ Booth February 7, 2020 at 10:43 am

    From now on it might just be quicker to tell us when the video isn’t related to the athletic…

  • Reply Banjola Adesina February 7, 2020 at 10:44 am

    John fleck was born by the atlethic

  • Reply billiam F.C. February 7, 2020 at 11:57 am

    Just to join our overlords in reciting their verses. “Today’s story was brought to you by the athletic. The place to read about football news on the internet.”

  • Reply Connor Neeson February 7, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    Flecks such a good guy, while he was at cov one of my good mates passed away and fleck was on of his favourite players and when we threw a football tournament to raise money he came and showed support, great guy great player

  • Reply UmerPK 4 February 7, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    I feel like a little kid, everytime a new videos comes out.
    Thank you so much for feeding my hobby of being a football reader!! 😄

  • Reply Harry Ross February 7, 2020 at 12:49 pm

    Hardly In the Scotland fold when he is behind McGregor, Jack, McGinn, Christie, Mctominay

  • Reply Greg Tampin-Copp February 7, 2020 at 12:52 pm

    Anyone who played Football Manager around 2010 isn't surprised by his performances

  • Reply José David Castro February 7, 2020 at 1:09 pm

    Fine to see that the Athletic is safe and sound

  • Reply Gaurav Rawat February 7, 2020 at 1:16 pm

    Its is impossible to guess who is main striker in Sheffield team… they have many goal scorer

  • Reply BHAALMINDER SINGH February 7, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    Tifo Football, can u make cross sectional analysis and insights of a player by the name of Alexander Isak,i do somehow feel that this player is destined to be football legend,please do try to give more analysis and past history of this player who recently turn down real Madrid before joining Borussia Dortmund. Do try to link him with any of the European football giants especially man Utd in a sensible transfer segment.p/s from a YouTube page subscriber who genuinely admire your content.

  • Reply Ryan Doherty February 7, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    5:54 anyone else noticed that that Scotland shirt has an Ireland crest?

  • Reply Powernittro HD February 7, 2020 at 2:01 pm

    No more. This story originally appeared on the Athletic:(

  • Reply Night Walker February 7, 2020 at 2:21 pm

    John Flex

  • Reply Mark Lynch February 7, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    The problem with Fleck and Scotland is that Centre Mid is the only position we actually have strength in depth in other than Left Back.

  • Reply Just Water February 7, 2020 at 3:03 pm

    Dude was a crazy talent back in FIFA 09 or something

  • Reply Ananyo Mutsuddi February 7, 2020 at 3:11 pm

    “an adaptation from the athletic"

  • Reply mashy smashy February 7, 2020 at 3:55 pm

    Nostalgia from Football Manager 🙂 good to see him do well

  • Reply Bradley Joseph February 7, 2020 at 3:57 pm

    This is a great video! It's a shame I've already seen it on The Athletic, where it first appeared.

  • Reply ghalib khan February 7, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    wow, even this video dropped Lundstrom. I guess its time for lundstrom to go from my FPL team

  • Reply Veler February 7, 2020 at 5:30 pm

    Please go back to saying "…. Originally appeared on the Athletic"

  • Reply Cypher Elite February 7, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Tifo”athletic” football

  • Reply guardian bravo February 7, 2020 at 6:57 pm

    Man like Fleck 🤙🤙

  • Reply Reza Armeynaldo February 7, 2020 at 9:00 pm

    Finally, another FM (football manager game) wonderkids who fulfilled his potential in real life, not just in the game. A proud moment!

    He was a great striker though in my game

  • Reply Wat Dog February 7, 2020 at 9:10 pm

    Got a great schooling at rangers and didn't down tools when things never worked out top pro

  • Reply Shane Wright February 7, 2020 at 11:22 pm

    This story is an adaption from the Athletic. A giraffe's long neck is an adaption to it's diet of acacia leaves.

    Also, I don't think Richard Sutcliffe knows what an exponential increase is.

  • Reply Scott Essex February 8, 2020 at 12:05 am

    Best and most consistent player I've seen play for Coventry in years. Gutted he's no longer with us.

  • Reply Lancine Keita February 8, 2020 at 5:57 am

    I concede my annoyance of The Athletic.
    If you guys are making money I'm not mad.

  • Reply Frank Jomungle February 8, 2020 at 6:13 am

    Doping

  • Reply GoonerKIRK. February 8, 2020 at 6:38 am

    Fuck you fleck!!

  • Reply Zahrul3 February 8, 2020 at 7:49 am

    John Fleck was once a wonderkid on FM

  • Reply Gotta Give Entertainment February 8, 2020 at 1:12 pm

    I used to buy this guy on fifa 10. Jose Baxter aswell 🤣

  • Reply CGi February 8, 2020 at 1:37 pm

    "Johnny Fleck drinks Irn Bru he is our Scottish hero, on a free from Coventry he cost us fucking zero……5 foot 4 and hard as fuck he gets the Blades excited, shove your Wednesday up your arse coz we are Sheff United" ⚔️🔴⚪⚫⚔️

  • Reply Sam Taylor February 8, 2020 at 2:48 pm

    Our scottish hero ⚔️

  • Reply Parramatta February 8, 2020 at 9:30 pm

    I find it funny how socialists love the athletic. The hypocrisy is palpable

  • Reply Alwa Ist leben February 9, 2020 at 7:13 am

    Can you make a video about Sheffield united why they're 6th place in the premier league

  • Reply I AM CHASE February 9, 2020 at 7:42 am

    Dam hes worth 6m i was thinking he's worth 10m

  • Reply Brian Harley February 9, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Never got a chance at rangers

  • Reply Joe Fineman February 9, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    Remember when he was on loan at Blackpool, honestly didn’t look anything special but he’s come on massively.

  • Reply Chicken Oriental February 9, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    Hope sheff united finish 4th and get champions league they really deserve it very well run club with solid players

  • Reply Bowzzer February 9, 2020 at 8:08 pm

    Can you please do the rise and fall of Ipswich Town

  • Reply Michael McKenzie February 9, 2020 at 9:45 pm

    Chris Wilder should be appointed Man Utd manager.

  • Reply targetthyself February 10, 2020 at 12:47 am

    Fleck is the classic FM wonderkid with 1 Determination.

  • Reply Callum Reece February 10, 2020 at 2:25 pm

    Gotta love them blades progression 😍👊🏻🔥

  • Reply Johnny Bravo February 10, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    Do more videos on Sheffield United plz👍

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