Oliver Norwood thinks it is a matter of time before the “under-rated” David McGoldrick scores his first Sheffield United goal of the season, but even without them he makes the Blades “a better team”.
Manager Chris Wilder revealed that after Sunday's 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers he had a quiet word to reassure the centre-forward, who had a couple of efforts saved and glanced a header wide in the second half.
McGoldrick, who did not play Premier League football for Southampton in his spell at St Mary's, scored an important late equaliser in the Republic of Ireland's Euro 2020 qualifier against Switzerland in September, but has not scored for the Blades since Easter Monday.
But the point Wilder was keen to hammer home to the 32-year-old was how highly his all-round game is valued. Central midfielder Norwood is of the same mind.
“The goal will come for him,” insisted the Manchester United youth product. “It's one of those things at the minute.
“But it's not just the goals, it's what he brings to the team. We're a different team with him in it at the minute.
“We appreciate how good a footballer he is and it will come, no doubt about that. We're fortunate to have a footballer of that class in our team.
“He's definitely under-rated. We're a better team with him in it than not, we proved that all last season and again this season.”
His forwards are the only part of his starting XI Wilder really likes to rotate, but despite that, McGoldrick has started the last six matches and Lys Mousset has only missed one of them – instead he scored from the bench at West Ham United.
Mousset has scored five times this season and attacking midfielders John Lundstram and John Fleck three and two times each, easing the pressure on McGoldrick. That allows him to maximise the other elements to his game.
Usually, when Sheffield United are out of possession, Mousset stays up on the shoulder of the last defender, while McGoldrick drops off to help the midfield. According to WhoScored.com, he has made more Premier League tackles this season (19) than any other forward, including a fantastic challenge tracking Diogo Jota back into his own half on Sunday. He has made 10 clearances in as many games.
As well as adding to the Blades's numerical strength in midfield, by dropping off McGoldrick opens gaps for Lundstram and Fleck in particular to run into, and when they get there they have the finishing ability to make the most of it.
But McGoldrick is more than just a defensive player, and is the ninth striker in the division for the number of passes he has made (219). He has had 23 shots in his ten games.
“You could hear our fans chanting is name all the way through and that shows what they think of him as well,” said Wilder on Sunday. “Everyone knows what a good player he is and, bigger picture, you've got to look at that.”