Sheffield United: Why David McGoldrick is worth his weight in gold
You could almost feel the crowd willing, absolutely willing him, to break his duck and score.
But after missing another chance towards the end of last weekend’s win over Aston Villa, David McGoldrick enters tomorrow’s fixture at Brighton and Hove Albion still without a Premier League goal. Not only this term but, following a spell with Southampton earlier in his career, since turning professional a decade-and-a-half ago.
So it speaks volumes, about the player’s contribution elsewhere on the pitch, that he will have been one of the first names Wilder scribbled onto his team sheet after finalising United’s plans for their final outing before Christmas; a match which could, depending upon results elsewhere, see them enter Boxing Day’s fixture against Watford fifth in the table.
“When Didzy’s in the team, we play better,” Wilder repeated for the umpteenth time this season. “He brings so much to the table, he helps others perform and creates so much space for the people around him. I don’t need to reassure him what we think of him, or what the fans think of him for that matter, because he already knows.”
Despite pretending otherwise, however, Wilder’s words are designed to do exactly that. Others might not judge McGoldrick by how he finishes. But the Republic of Ireland international, who flashed his colleagues a resigned smile after firing the ball against Tom Heaton’s legs, is understandably growing increasingly frustrated by his failure to find the back of the net.
Six days earlier, when United beat Norwich City 2-1 at Carrow Road, McGoldrick could be seen punching the turf in frustration when another opportunity went begging. He was midway through another excellent performance. But the thing he craved most - well, almost the most given United’s desire to establish themselves at the highest level - remained elusive.
When McGoldrick does score, which Wilder is convinced he will, you would not be surprised to see him dash onto the playing surface and embrace the 32-year-old himself; such is the high regard in which he holds the former Ipswich Town centre-forward.
“When Didzy gets one, and he will get one, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him go on a real run,” Wilder said, predicting McGoldrick might even reach double figures for the campaign. “He had spells last season, when as we all know he was brilliant in the Championship, when they weren’t going in and then suddenly, one does and he’s up and running again.”
“Seriously, though, it’s not an issue,” Wilder added. “Not at all. There’s so much more to Didzy than that, as everybody here - fans, team mates and staff - understands and appreciates. He’s something else for us. He does so much.”
Including, the United manager went on to remind, producing a series of wonderful assists such as the one which, after combining with the Scotland midfielder, created John Fleck’s second effort against Villa.
“It was a lovely touch, absolutely brilliant,” Wilder said. “There’s not many lads who can do that, who can do what he does, on such a regular basis.”