To say last night was a frustrating night at the office for Sheffield United would be a huge understatement. Millwall snatched yet another late Bramall Lane winner to leave Slavisa Jokanovic and his team despondent.
The Serbian boss used the game with Gary Rowett’s men to make a few changes to his starting XI. After his brilliant cameo against Stoke City, David McGoldrick got his chance in the number ten role. Behind him, former Ireland teammate, Conor Hourihane, was also given a start.
However, among an XI of pretty ordinary performances, it’s safe to say that both McGoldrick and Hourihane did nothing to suggest Jokanovic has been wrong in leaving them out beforehand.
The basic stats make grim reading when it comes to McGoldrick and Hourihane for Sheffield United last night. Per data from Whoscored, the pair managed a paltry 35 passes between them. Of course, Hourihane played just 37 minutes. But in comparison, Ollie Norwood played less than that and contributed 27 passes – albeit only at 74% accuracy – in that time.
Hourihane also failed to register a single tackle, clearance, or interception while on the field. Worrying indeed for a central midfield player.
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For McGoldrick, it was a performance that summed up the experienced forward. ‘Didzy’ was presented with two golden chances. He hit his one on one too close to the goalkeeper in the first-half. Then, in the second period, he somehow put it over the bar from inside two yards out. The less said on that, the better.
Looking at the stats is one thing, but sometimes it’s so obvious on the eye that you don’t need to see the numbers. The fact last night was that the game completely bypassed Hourihane. It was obvious from around 15 minutes in that he was off the pace, when he was beaten to three bouncing balls in the middle of the park in the space of 20 seconds.
Ollie Norwood has had his critics – rightly so at times – but Hourihane’s effort last night made Norwood look like a prime Andrea Pirlo. It really was that poor.
For McGoldrick, this experiment and notion that he can be our number ten needs putting in the bin. Yes, he’s good when he drops deep at times off the front. But that doesn’t make him a Mark Duffy, or even an Iliman Ndiaye, who contributed so much more when he came on.
Finally, McGoldrick is STILL missing those big chances. The habit which blighted his first Premier League season seems to be back. Yes, he got one at the weekend and his contribution was lauded. But with the praise, must come the criticism.
Surely, then, Norwood will be back at Barnsley. While in attack, Ndiaye has to come back in and Oli McBurnie must be closer to getting some minutes.