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'I'll play anywhere' - Time for David McGoldrick to become a number 10 for Sheffield United?

David McGoldrick is one goal away from matching the entire tally for the Sheffield United top scorers last season.

They did admittedly come at a premium in 2019/20 despite the overall success on the pitch. Oli McBurnie and Lys Mousset finished top of the pile with six apiece.

Yet the fact McGoldrick has already exceeded his overall total for last term is a small positive in a campaign distinctly lacking them.

The 33-year-old scored twice in Thursday’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United, taking his tally for 2020/21 to five in all competitions.

McGoldrick managed four last campaign and had to wait until March to hit the back of the net for the first time.

Despite this, the striker – like many of the Blades squad – has actually suffered a dip in form. Which he admits himself.

“I know I need to up my standard in games as well, because I haven’t been myself and my performances have dropped,” McGoldrick told BBC Radio Sheffield after his brace against Man United.

David McGoldrick could thrive in new role at Sheffield United

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McGoldrick finished Thursday’s game at Old Trafford in a front three alongside Mousset and Rhian Brewster.

Despite a 12th loss in 13 Premier League fixtures, it was the first time the South Yorkshire side had scored twice in a match this season.

They showed much more impetus in attack and there is every reason to feel hopeful of that elusive first win in tomorrow’s trip to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Which could also be the perfect opportunity to start McGoldrick in a new role as a number ten.

The reason there was no pressure from Blades fans on the forward despite his lack of goals last term is because they understand that isn’t his best asset.

Among the attacking unit at Chris Wilder’s disposal, McGoldrick is arguably the one who understands his system the best.

At their best in 2019/20, the Irishman was dropping deep to link midfield and attack. McGoldrick would often pop up in unexpected positions for a striker as players interchanged with fluidity.

Many opponents didn’t always know how to deal with that, which helped Wilder’s team finish ninth – their highest league position since 1992.

That’s been missing this time around, but there could a way to bring it back.

McGoldrick as a number ten

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When United were promoted to the top flight for the first time in 12 years, Wilder tweaked his tactics.

The 53-year-old knew the 3-4-1-2 that had served him so well in the Championship would be exposed by better quality in the Premier League.

So he dropped the number ten and switched to a flat midfield three. It worked too, with the likes of John Fleck and John Lundstram bursting forwards to support the attack and scoring several goals themselves.

Yet that midfield spark has been missing in 2020/21. Sander Berge has developed very well in the role, but mostly things look stunted and sluggish.

Wilder has defended his system and has reminded those calling for him to change it that being more open could see the Blades picked off.

This is true against some teams. Play like that against the counter-attacking efficiency of Man United, Liverpool, or Manchester City and likely lose 5-0.

But when facing those on a similar level, maybe more risk is needed. Against Brighton, Wilder could afford to play three attackers.

McGoldrick has the ability to operate as a number ten behind a front two. He can play in the hole while two out-and-out strikers stretch the defence.

Not only that, but McGoldrick also has the selfless mindset required.

“I’ll play anywhere,” he said on Thursday. “If the gaffer wants me to play wide, if the gaffer wants me to play in the middle, anywhere. I just want to help the boys.”

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