Sheffield United striker provides evidence to support his manager in war of words with rival

It has been one of the most bizarre spats of the season so far, with two managers who were supposed to be friends becoming embroiled in a row about how many substitutes Premier League teams should be permitted to use because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thursday, 10th December 2020, 12:38 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th December 2020, 12:38 pm

Jurgen Klopp believes it should be five, having used his full complement in two thirds of Liverpool’s outings during ‘Project Restart’ as he delivered the title to Anfield. Chris Wilder wants to stick with three, insisting that relaxing the rules again would simply disadvantage those clubs with smaller budgets and less well-stocked academies. Player welfare isn’t at stake, the Sheffield United chief insists. But the integrity of a competition supposedly made up of equal members is, he believes - a stance Klopp famously branded as “selfish” during a recent interview, before turning his attention to Brexit which also apparently makes “no sense at all.”

As United prepare for Sunday’s visit to his former club Southampton, David McGoldrick has now entered the debate. And, despite being told his health is at risk because of the 53-year-old’s intransigence, the centre-forward is standing full square behind Wilder.

“I always remember going to Manchester United towards the end of last season, and when they had the game won, and you could use five, they suddenly brought them all on at once with about 10 minutes to go.” McGoldrick said, casting his mind back to June’s visit to Old Trafford, which United lost 3-0. “Every single one of them was an international and you’re stood there thinking ‘Bloody hell, look at this.’ Okay, they were well up at the time but all it takes is just one goal to turn everything around and that, well, it pretty much stopped any chance of that happening. It also really rammed it home what we were up against, the difference sides like that can make.”

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Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp shakes hands with Sheffield United's Chris Wilder at Anfield earlier this season: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

An unused substitute in United’s last two matches, McGoldrick would stand to benefit if Klopp, who continues to call for another vote on the issue, eventually gets his way. But after losing his place in Wilder’s starting eleven - Oliver Burke partnering Oli McBurnie in attack against both West Bromwich Albion and Leicester City - McGoldrick insists United are right to resist calls by the likes of the German and Chelsea’s Frank Lampard for the matter to be put to another vote; sensing opposition among some of those previously in Wilder’s camp is beginning to weaken ahead of the festive period. However Slaven Bilic of West Brom voiced his support for Wilder following last month's visit to The Hawthorns. With United losing that fixture and also last weekend's meeting with Leicester City, they travel to the south coast at the foot of the table and without a win since the beginning of the campaign.

“If it goes back to a vote, and it goes through, then we accept it,” Wilder said. “People know what we think and we’ve been through this process already. But if it was voted through, then of course we’d have to accept it and get on with it. That's the way it works and that's what we'd do."

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David McGoldrick is happy for Sheffield United to use three substitutes: Simon Bellis/Sportimage