‘What’s the score’ was the chant from the Sheffield United fans as Martyn Waghorn came off the bench.
It was the 85th minute and the Blades had just scored their third in a 3-1 victory over Derby County on Boxing Day.
United tried to sign Waghorn in the summer but could not meet the forward’s wage demands. Manager Chris Wilder finally admitted defeat on August 6.
“We can’t be embarrassed,” Wilder told the Sheffield Star at the time. “We put in and it hasn’t been enough. We’re up against some clubs at different stages of their development, who have got bigger pockets than us. If they say ‘yes’ then it tends to happen.”
Two days later Derby signed Waghorn on a three-year deal.
David McGoldrick played alongside Waghorn at Ipswich Town last season and arrived at Bramall Lane this summer on a cheaper deal.
McGoldrick scored the second goal against Derby as the Blades leapfrogged their opponents in the Championship table. It was the striker’s seventh goal of 2018/19 as he continues to play a key role for Wilder’s side.
In contrast, Waghorn has only managed two league strikes. His appearance on December 26 was only the 28-year-old’s third in Derby’s last eight matches.
It’s little wonder the Blades supporters are quick to mock Waghorn. Imagine what could have been if the Sunderland academy product had chosen United.
Wilder has made signing a new striker a priority in the January transfer window. Billy Sharp, Leon Clarke and McGoldrick were all on target against the Rams.
Conor Washington is also on the books but extra cover is needed. Waghorn could have played a key role for the Blades. And as a central striker, rather than pushed out wide in Frank Lampard’s 4-3-3 system.
If United are promoted ahead of Derby this season, United fans are sure to see it as poetic justice.