It had been an admittedly tough season for midfielder Muhamed Bešić.
A rough start
Joining Sheffield United on transfer deadline day this past summer, he had only played for nine Premier League minutes going into Sunday afternoons match versus Norwich City.
He hadn’t done much wrong, to be fair, but the Blades were doing just fine without him. The surprise package of the season, many expected Sheffield United to be in a fight for survival this year. Instead, they’ve just kept winning, and are still only a few points off the likes of Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United.
Things weren’t much better for Bešić on international duty, as Bosnia and Herzegovina fell apart in their Euro 2020 qualifying campaign, ultimately firing head coach Robert Prosinecki as a result.
However, his fortunes could be set to change following Sunday afternoon, as Bešić got his chance with the Blades, and he made the most of it.
It had been an interesting match for Sheffield United, who fell behind in surprising fashion when Alexander Tettey poked home from close range. For the first time all campaign, the team looked quite poor in the first half. They were misplacing passes, and getting beaten to loose balls all over the field.
The Blades turned everything around in less than ten minutes after the break, with wingbacks Enda Stevens and George Baldock both finding the back of the net to give United a 2-1 lead. They were put back under pressure following the goals, however, as Norwich pushed up in search of an equalizer.
Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder recognized that a change was needed. At the hour mark, he took off Ollie Norwood, who had been struggling all afternoon on the ball. In his place came on the aforementioned Mo Bešić, tasked with keeping the Canaries at bay for the remainder of the contest.
He managed to do just that. Playing as the deepest lying midfielder with John Fleck and John Lundstram alongside of him, Bešić sat in front of the Blades backline. That allowed him to do almost everything defensively, intercepting passes or tackling the ball away from Norwich midfielders trying to drive forward.
The Bosnian even got involved on the counter, as he carried the ball up the pitch before playing David McGoldrick in behind, who hit his shot just wide of the goal. It was the epitome of an active performance from Bešić, and the stats back him up.
Blades Analytics on Twitter tweeted out some numbers following the end of the contest. Even though he was only subbed on in the 64th minute, Bešić managed to get involved in four tackles, the most out of any Sheffield United player. He added two interceptions to that as well, winning five out of seven duels on the ground. His energy rubbed off on his teammates, as everyone started flying into challenges soon after he came on.
At the end of the afternoon, Bešić was able to get the job done, keeping Norwich at bay and securing all three points for Sheffield United. Blades fans all across social media were happy with the result, and quick to praise the Bosnian for what he had done.
More to come
Now it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds. The hectic holiday period is upon us, which means plenty of rest and rotation for teams across the country.
Sheffield United don’t have the largest squad in the Premier League, so they’ll need everyone performing at a high level if they want to keep picking up points. That will mean more minutes on offer for Bešić, and more chances to impress on the field.
In terms of next weekend's game against Aston Villa, it might be too soon to see much change. Manager Chris Wilder likes to keep his team consistent on a weekly basis, so expect Ollie Norwood to start once again.
He’s not been at his best in recent weeks, but his superb play earlier on in the season was key. However, the Northern Ireland international now knows he’s under pressure, as his spot in the team is no longer guaranteed with Bešić playing at a high level. If Norwood isn’t getting the job done versus Villa, expect Bešić to replace him once again.
Bešić was able to prove his quality this past weekend in his stellar cameo versus Norwich, and it seems his future at Bramall Lane is bright once again. Fans will now just have to hope it’s not a false dawn.