At first glance, he looks like someone who plays off the cuff; a footballer who relies on instinct rather than complex methodologies.
But as David Brooks prepares for the new Championship season, he has revealed how studying formations and tactics is fuelling his push for a starting role at Bramall Lane.
“I watch all the games on TV and I take notes on similar players to myself,” the Sheffield United midfielder said. “Obviously there’s only so much you can do because everybody’s individual attributes are a bit different. You have to be specific to yourself. It is all about picking up little things and listening to people, basically just developing yourself.”
Brooks, aged 20, has been one of United’s stand-out performers this summer after graduating from the Steelphalt Academy. A peripheral figure during last term’s match to the League One title, he is set to be involved when Brentford visit South Yorkshire this weekend having scored four goals in six friendly appearances.
Although Brooks’ impressive displays for England at the recent Toulon Tournament ultimately persuaded Chris Wilder to cancel his proposed loan to Chesterfield, the youngster cited a greater appreciation of strategy and system as another reason.
“It’s mainly tactics because, if you’re not in the right position, you can’t do what you want on the ball,” Brooks continued. “It’s mainly mental because you need to be where you need to be. You need to visualise passes before you receive the ball. There’s a lot more thinking goes on (in football) than it might seem.”
“I think that’s an area where I’ve improved,” he added. “Playing and training with the first team last season really brought me on. If you don’t learn, you’ll get nailed really quick.”