GARY Madine - unplayable one match, anonymous the next. His form has dipped more times than a rollercoaster this year.
Leading the line of one of England’s true sleeping giants is a big ask of any 21-year-old. On occasions, the burden of spearheading the attack has weighed heavily on his shoulders but at times he has thrived on the responsibility.
Between mid-August and mid-October, Madine plundered 11 goals in 11 appearances. His goalscoring exploits during that period thoroughly merited the chant of ‘Gary Madine, Goal Machine’. It appeared Wednesday had a player on their hands capable of firing them to promotion.
But for one reason or another, the lanky forward has lost his way. He picked up an injury at Tranmere, returning two months later for the top-of-the-table clash with Charlton Athletic and has indisputably struggled to hit the heights since the turn of the year, hitting just two goals in 2012.
Madine starred in the fine 4-1 victory over Bury, looking like he was back to something like his old self, only to then produce a below-par display against Bournemouth. Just like his teammate, Jermaine Johnson, Madine excites and frustrates in equal measure. You never know what you are going to get from him from one day to the next. Some fans have even questioned his appetite for the fight, accusing him of not working hard enough off the ball.
Owls boss Dave Jones pondered recruiting Madine for Cardiff City around 18 months before he moved to Hillsborough from Carlisle. Interestingly of Madine, Jones recently said: “Gary’s got a lot of potential. What you have to remember in football is: how long do you wait for potential to develop?”
On the pitch, Madine is a potential match-winner but off it he has had his problems. This newspaper reported that Madine spent a night in jail after being arrested outside a city nightclub following an alleged ‘skirmish’ in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Jones said: “I have spoken to Gary today and we have just got to try and give him the support that he needs and go from there. It hasn’t affected his training.
“There is not a great deal I can say about it because it is all pending.”
Generally, Jones says footballers are “open for criticism and verbal abuse outside and you have just got to be able to walk away from it. It is as simple as that”.
With 10 matches to go and 30 points on offer, there is still time for the Owls to break into the top two. To achieve that objective, Wednesday fans will be praying Jones can coax the best out of Madine and help him rediscover his killer touch in front of goal. It could make all the difference to the club’s promotion hopes.
Surprisingly, not one Owls star made the Football League’s top 10 League One players, as chosen by the respective division’s managers. As well as former Wednesday midfielder Darren Potter, Stephen Gleeson and Luke Chadwick made the cut from MK Dons. Have they really outshone Jose Semedo, the unsung hero of the Owls midfield engine room? I sincerely doubt it.