It’s almost upsetting to see how far from his best David McGoldrick looks in a Sheffield United shirt this season under Slavisa Jokanovic.
Last season’s standout player – albeit in an underperforming Blades side – has looked a shadow of the player we all know he can be.
After struggling to hit the net in the memorable first Premier League season, ‘Didzy’ found his goal scoring touch last term. He struck eight times, more than any other Blades player during the club’s two-year return to the top-flight.
Naturally, most Blades fans expected McGoldrick to play a key role this season under Jokanovic. Many tipped the former Ireland man to play in a number ten role. Hopes of a return to the 3-5-2 Chris Wilder played in the Championship was many fans’ wish.
But, we have seen little in the way of that formation. Worryingly, we’ve also seen little from McGoldrick, when the reality is, this United side needs his influence.
New Blades boss Jokanovic has already spoken of how he will need his forward players to adapt. We’ve already seen elements of this during the season, even after just four games. Rhian Brewster has been wide, as has Oliver Burke, while McGoldrick has also been utilised on the right and left.
But as yet, we’ve not really seen Didzy in that number ten role so many of us craved. And if Jokanovic’s plan is get McGoldrick involved and on the ball, then that plan is failing at the moment.
Per WhoScored, the United forward is averaging just the 17 passes per game at the moment. Comparatively, midfield players like John Fleck (37 ppg), Sander Berge (48) and Oli Norwood (70), are getting on the ball far more.
This suggests – at the most basic level – that United aren’t getting McGoldrick into the game. And that has to change.
A while back, I wrote about the conundrum that faced Chris Wilder with McGoldrick. At the time, he was playing some of the best football of his career, but wasn’t scoring the goals.
Now, some 18 months or so on from that article, McGoldrick is neither playing well or scoring goals. Like Wilder, Jokanovic now faces his own problems with Didzy.
The phrase ‘but he brings so much to the team’, only goes so far, especially when said player is not bringing that much to the team.
Of course, McGoldrick isn’t alone in being below par. Not one United player is really performing as expected, while Jokanovic himself has hardly inspired the Blades fans.
The Blades boss simply must solve things with McGoldrick. However that might be. The United number 17 is arguably the greatest free transfer in the club’s history.
But if Jokanovic is not going to deploy a number ten and isn’t going to use McGoldrick in a front two, then just where does the 33-year-old fit in with this current Sheffield United set-up?
We all want Didzy to do well and be a big part of our success. But as things stand, there’s a worrying trend developing with him, and others in this squad.