Sheffield United don’t really need a striker; Wednesday definitely do...and other things we learned at the weekend

Marc McNulty scores Sheffield United's second goal against Bradford on Saturday
Marc McNulty scores Sheffield United's second goal against Bradford on Saturday
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It was a weekend where Sheffield Wednesday showed that if the main men who have served them so well this season all have an off day then they’ll struggle while up in Bradford, Marc McNulty staked his claim as United’s goalscoring star.

Chris Holt goes through some points that stood out over the past few days...

Marc McNulty celebrates

Marc McNulty celebrates

Need for a frontman at Bramall Lane is over-exaggerated

Ahead of Saturday’s Yorkshire derby with Bradford City, and amid the frenzy over whether Ched Evans should return to Sheffield United, Stefan Scougall made a claim that Marc McNulty could be the man to pick up the mantel as the Blades’ main goal threat. Now McNulty and Scougall are old mates, so you would expect the cherubic midfielder to talk up the abilities of the former Livingston striker. However, aside from that, there was a lot of merit in Scougall’s words. For much of this season, United fans have complained that they need a forward to get the goals that would ensure they finally drag themselves out of League One. They’ve repeatedly called on Nigel Clough to raid the loan market and I also have no doubt that, for many, the motivation behind backing a return to the club for Evans following his release from prison last week comes from the fact that at this level his ability is, or at least was, proven.

But goals haven’t really been that much of an issue this season, save from perhaps that they are shared around more. When you don’t have someone like, for example, Chesterfield do in Eoin Doyle, banging in the majority of them, there’s often a mistaken belief that there aren’t enough goals being scored.

Now, though, McNulty is starting to show that he could do that job anyway. His goal against Bradford was his third in successive league games and he is deserving of a start. In my opinion, given an extended run in the team, the Scot - a natural finisher - could hit double figures pretty quickly and I wouldn’t rule out a push for 20. He’s capable of it and that would finally shout down those in the stands who are still wrongly baying for a number nine.

READ MORE James Shield’s Match Analysis - Bradford City 0 Sheffield United 2

Something different needed up front for Wednesday

While United fans crave a striker they’ve already got, over at Hillsborough, those in blue and white are justifed in their demands. On Saturday, Stevie May started up front alongside Gary Madine with Adthe Nuhiu dropped to the bench - the Austrian’s goalscoring start to the season seeming like a long time ago now - and to be frank, they could have played until next Saturday and not threatened Watford’s goal. This isn’t really a criticism of any of those three though, the problem is, they just don’t work together in any pairing. May is all-action, a lot of his work is done around the outside of the box, dropping deep for the ball while Madine and Nuhiu are strong, awkward and hold the ball up well. So, really you have three players there, good at creating space for another striker but rarely getting into goalscoring positions themselves. Wednesday are in dire need of a poacher, a six yard box striker who is going to find a gap created by one of the others - someone in the Kevin Phillips mould...crafty, intuitive, instinctive. Of course it’s all well and good saying that; those types of players are already thriving at other clubs. So again the loan market is all Stuart Gray has to work with and proven strikers are rarely on that list. So something of a gamble might be needed to unearth a young hidden gem somewhere at perhaps a Premier League club. Easier said than done and that’s why it could take time - and Gray should take all the time he needs - to find the right man. Until then, Owls fans can just hope that Royston Drenthe’s second half display on Saturday wasn’t a flash in the pan and his ability to beat players and provide a good cross can, in the meantime, eek something out of May, Madine and Nuhiu.

READ MORE { |Dom Howson’s Match Analysis - Watford 3 Sheffield Wednesday 0|click here}

Keiren Westwood is human

Sticking with Wednesday and it is rare to see a player make such a massive mistake and escape major critisicm. But when you’ve played as well as Keiren Westwood has this season, you are allowed the odd howler. Westwood has been the Owls’ best player by a stretch and has probably been responsible for winning more points for his team than any other, which is why it came as such a shock to see him let the meek shot for Watford’s second goal squirm beneath him. It was a bad day at the office for the keeper - he wasn’t alone - and given that he is praised every week, I’m going to be extra critical and suggest he could have done better for the first goal, too, having come out initially and then changed his mind, something goalkeepers should never do. When you’re most consistent player is having a stinker, you know it’s not going to be your day.

READ MORE Glenn Loovens calls on Wednesday to come out fighting

It must be great to be a Miller

You have to wonder at what point Rotherham United fans stop pinching themselves and realise that this could be the norm. Victory on Friday night against an improving Leeds United at a rocking New York Stadium provided another famous night for Millers. Having been through what they have it’s understandable that they remain in something of a dreamland but as the weeks go on, they have shown themselves to be more than worthy of a place in the Championship to the point where they look like an established side. Staying there will remain their main priority but I’m almost certain that they won’t even flirt with relegation and fans should be expecting more big New York nights next year.

READ MORE Night to remember for Millers