Birmingham City v Sheffield United: Charlie Goode relishing being a Blade

With a hectic fixture list and hopes of a Championship play-off push, Sheffield United were looking for ready-made players in the January transfer window and Charlie Goode ticked a few important boxes.

Charlie Goode signs for Sheffield United. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Charlie Goode signs for Sheffield United. Picture: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Of the three players who came into the club in January, goalkeeper Adam Davies had played under manager Paul Heckingbottom at Barnsley and Daniel Jebbison, called back from a loan at Burton Albion, was handed a goalscoring Premier League debut by his old Under-23 coach.

Goode is new to the former Barnsley and Leeds United manager but not his way of playing, having appeared in a back three for Brentford, who he is on loan from, Northampton Town and Scunthorpe United, where he played under Heckingbottom’s assistant, Stuart McCall. He could play on the left at a push, but is more likely to be competing with Chris Basham and John Egan.

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Perhaps even more importantly, Goode fits seamlessly into the Blades ethos. Theirs is a squad packed with players who came through big academies but had to drop down the leagues to work their way back up.

Goode’s path has been more winding than most, from Fulham’s academy to non-league football and all the way up the pyramid to the top-flight, which he played in as recently as December. The next stop-off could be a debut at Birmingham City in the Championship tonight, although Basham and Egan might have other ideas.

When Fulham said “no thanks”, Goode’s focus was on playing for fun but he was fortunate a blinds man could see his talent and gave him the chance to work his way into the professional game.

“When I was 15, 16 I got turned away from clubs for being too small,” says Goode. “My dad Graham’s big into football, he’s been a big influence on my career, and he told me it was a case of enjoying my football, playing for fun.

“I started climbing the leagues quite rapidly and got to the stage at Hendon where I thought I might get my chance. My phone started ringing and I’d never experienced that before. I had many teams offering trials but I was working for the family business and it wasn’t something I was willing to do. Then a few offered contracts and Scunthorpe was the one I opted for.”

The time spent working for his dad selling electric blinds and curtains allowed Goode to make a success of non-league football and that gave him a grounding he would not have had in the sanitised world of academy football.

“If I wasn’t working for a family business I probably wouldn’t be where I am now because they let me get away and actually do it,” he says. “After matchdays I’d be off quick on the train to try and make it to work. If it wasn’t a family business I’d probably have got sacked or I’d be doing something else.

“I was 17, 18 playing against grown men and it was the best thing for me. League One, League Two football as well as the Championship are very direct and very aggressive. There’s a lot of players come through the academies now that probably don’t experience that until they’re 23. I got battered and bruised by older men and it made me grow up very fast.

“Playing in the Premier League is something I’ve always wanted to do. I had a good run in the (Brentford) team and picked up a freak injury, I wanted to play games week in, week out. I’m not afraid to step out and help Sheffield United try and get there. Looking at the table I can’t see any reason why we can’t fly up it.”

Big-time Charlies are not welcome at Bramall Lane, so Goode’s background appealed to Heckingbottom. He even describes himself as a defender who likes to defend, which seemed to go out of fashion years ago.

“It’s a good quality to have in life,” Heckingbottom says of Goode’s grounded nature. “There’s no substitute for hard work.

“We want to have a real honesty. Players know what to expect from me and the staff, we’ll give them everything and we expect the same back.

“You can see it, feel it, in the players here now. I want everyone fighting so we’re able to change the XI.

“With 20 games in 12 weeks or so that’s going to be really important. That hunger, that drive, that ability to scrap is really important.”

It was a deliberate policy to sign players who did not need bedding in.

“We did have this conversation a lot with Mitch (Paul Mitchell) and Jared (Dublin) in recruitment,” says Heckingbottom.

“If we’d been in a different position we would have made permanent or longer-term signings and accepted the first few months’ work with them were for the benefit of further down the line but we want them to be able to affect the XI as quickly as possible, to help us for these 20 games.”

Last six games: Birmingham City DDWLDL; Sheffield United WWDLLW

Referee: K Stroud (Hampshire)

Last time: Birmingham City 1 Sheffield United 0, April 10, 2019, Championship