ONLY seven weeks into the Premier League programme and David Brooks has already made six starts for Bournemouth.
That’s just three less than he was granted at Sheffield United for the whole of last season in the Championship before his initial £12million move to the south coast. Vindication of ignoring Blades boss Chris Wilder’s advice to stay.
“Personally, I thought Brooksy would have been better off remaining here with us for another 12 months,” said Wilder at the time. “But agents own players these days don't they.
“I like the lad and I've got a good relationship with him. I genuinely wish him all the best. I can understand why he wants to look after himself and his family. Honestly I do. But I also thought he could do that by staying with us for another season and developing from there."
An ever-present in Bournemouth’s Premier League campaign so far, last night he scored his first goal in the top flight, a rasping shot that went in off the underside of the bar to give the Cherries a fifth-minute lead over visiting Crystal Palace.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe has shown complete faith in the 21-year-old since signing him in July. He said after a dramatic 2-1 victory decided by a late penalty which lifted Bournemouth up to seventh: "He's got outstanding technical qualities and I believe he's a goalscorer in waiting. His finishing's improving and it (his goal) was a really good team move.
“The potential of his performances is huge. I felt he deserved to start the season, he was magnificent in the last [pre-season] friendly against Marseille and he's stayed in on merit. He's not been overawed by the Premier League.”
Brooks, of course, missed three months of last season at Bramall Lane after contracting glandular fever but his inability to command a regular starting role must have played a part in his decision to seek a move.
He was due to be loaned out to then League Two Chesterfield before being hastily retracted after his performance for England’s triumphant Under-20 side at the Toulon Tournament in which he scored in the final against Uruguay and was voted player of competition. He, of course, then switched allegiance to Wales and has since won five full caps.
It still remains a mystery how the most talented player on United’s pay roll by some distance, who played no part in promotion from League One and was then seemingly overlooked in favour of a loan to the Spireites, did not start more matches in the Championship at the Lane fitness issues aside.
Even his final appearance in a Blades shirt, at Bristol City and a fixture with nothing riding on it, Brooks was as an 80th-minute sub, one of 21 appearances in the league from the bench. His last start was at home to Millwall in mid April.
The argument seemed to be either it was difficult to fit him in or that he was still a tender talent who needed to be nurtured. Eddie Howe thinks otherwise and judging from Brooks’ start to life at the top, he’s right.