Former Manchester United schoolboy Josh Brownhill dreaming of his first Premier League goal ahead of return to Old Trafford

Ex-Manchester United schoolboy Josh Brownhill says everything started to fall into place after gaining the trust of boss Sean Dyche.

By Dan Black
Thursday, 30th December 2021, 10:30 am
Josh Brownhill of Burnley is challenged by Bruno Fernandes during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on April 18, 2021 in Manchester, England.
Josh Brownhill of Burnley is challenged by Bruno Fernandes during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Burnley at Old Trafford on April 18, 2021 in Manchester, England.

The 26-year-old has had a lot on his plate since making a £9m move from Bristol City to Burnley almost two years ago.

The Warrington-born midfielder, who left Old Trafford as a teenager, had made just one appearance for his new club when the pandemic hit.

His debut was nothing more than a cameo as he replaced Jack Cork in the 89th minute with the Clarets already 3-0 up against AFC Bournemouth at Turf Moor.

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Allan Saint-Maximin of Newcastle United is tackled by Josh Brownhill of Burnley during the Premier League match between Newcastle United and Burnley at St. James Park on December 04, 2021 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England.

Brownhill then had to wait four months to get another chance; a 5-0 loss at the hands of defending champions Manchester City at the Etihad.

"For me, being here, it was gaining the manager's trust," he said. "I think that was massive and I think it's important wherever you are or wherever you go, whether you're stepping up from League One into the Championship or whether it's from the Championship to the Premier League.

"When you have that trust you can handle the new pressures, a new environment, playing against even better players, handling the football and seeing games out. It's all of that combined and I feel like I did it all quite quickly."

Brownhill, who featured in both games against the Red Devils last term, has had no option but to learn on the job following his departure from Ashton Gate.

He's been trying to contend with a new way of playing under Dyche, which comes with the territory having made the transition to the top flight.

The youngest of three siblings feels the difference between the Championship — where he made 145 appearances for the Robins — and the Premier League is quite striking.

He said: "There is a big difference and that comes with the quality that we're playing against now compared to the Championship. In the Championship a lot more players can switch off, they leave you a bit more time on the ball.

"I'm in a different team, in a different role, I'm learning how to see Premier League games out because it's not as easy. If you give sides chances at this level they'll take them, whereas in the Championship you can get away with it."

Brownhill, who registered 29 goal contributions for City, added: "My game has changed a little bit, but the Premier League and the teams you face helps you develop into that role.

"I've had to adapt my game from the Championship when coming to the Premier League. That's something that has come with it. With the way we play we have to defend very well, block shots, win tackles as well as intercept."

Brownhill, who netted his one and only goal for Burnley in a League Cup tie away at Millwall with a rasping effort from distance, is still searching for his first Premier League goal ahead of his return to the Theatre of Dreams.

How he'd love for that to change against Ralf Rangnick's Red Devils. "It's no secret that I'm working hard to get that," he said.

"It's not at the front for me, it's not the most important thing, but I know when it comes it'll be a special moment for me and my family because I've been working hard to get that.

"But, for me, getting the three points is far more important than me scoring my first Premier League goal. If we stay up this year, and we're very comfortable, but it comes without me scoring, I'll take that in a heartbeat. If I can score a few on top of that, brilliant."