We would not have gone up without Sheffield United signing Gary Madine, says Neil Warnock
The 28-year-old striker yesterday completed a loan switch to Bramall Lane from Cardiff City.
Warnock signed Madine for £6m from Bolton Wanderers on deadline day last January when the Welsh club were occupying a similar position to the Blades today, just a couple of points adrift of the top two.
Come May and Cardiff had clinched runners-up spot with Madine having made 13 appearances and Warnock is adamant the one-time Sheffield Wednesday striker can make a similar impact at Bramall Lane.
“Gary is something different to what Sheffield United have already got,” the 70-year-old Cardiff manager last night told The Yorkshire Post.
“He is ideal for the Championship. For me, we would not have been promoted without him last season.
“He won us six or seven points just by how he played up front. One game at Millwall stands out as he took a real battering, but kept going and helped us get a big point. We definitely would not have got that draw without him.
“There were a few games like that and, in the end, they all added up. Those six or seven points proved the difference in us winning automatic promotion or having to settle for the play-offs.
“He can do the same for Sheffield United, who are in a great position in the Championship.”
Madine’s opportunities in the Premier League this term have been few and far between.
He has made five appearances from the bench, the most recent coming in the 1-0 home defeat to Leicester City on November 3. His collective time on the pitch, however, amounts to just 32 minutes.
Last season Madine played a much more integral role after arriving in south Wales with 10 goals from 28 appearances to his name at Bolton.
That tally may not have been added to in a Cardiff shirt. But, as Warnock makes clear, he brought some much-needed physical prowess to the forward line.
This much was evident at Bramall Lane last April when Madine was brought off the bench at half-time with the Bluebirds trailing 1-0 after being distinctly second-best to the hosts.
Madine’s header set up Anthony Pilkington for a dramatic 90th- minute equaliser that evening, underlining why Warnock feels the forward made a telling impact during the promotion run-in.
The former Blades manager added: “If I am honest I did not really want him to leave because we are short.
“But I know how much he wanted this move and how much he wants to play. Chris has not got someone like Gary. You need something different in the Championship and Gary can be that man for Sheffield United.”
United’s need for “something different” in attack was underlined during Sunday’s embarrassing FA Cup exit to National League Barnet.
Madine, in the crowd as a side featuring ten changes was beaten 1-0, said: “There were other teams interested, but believe it or not when I knew Sheffield United was interested, I was buzzing and jumped at the chance.
“I have played with some of the lads and against them, too. I was dying to make the move happen.
“Some people have this perception I don’t like Sheffield United, but that is not true. I have had over 20,000 supporters booing me when I have played here before, it is an intimidating place to come and some players would crumble.
“But I have always thought I wouldn’t mind being part of that and it is certainly a club on the up, one who play some excellent football.”
Manager Wilder added: “Gary gives us a physicality at the top of the pitch. Tactically, he gives us something different, which we will need in the second part of the season.
“If you ask any of our centre-halves for their opinion of Gary Madine, they will all say he is a tough boy to play against.”
Madine’s Wednesday links - he played 113 times in a five-year spell at Hillsborough – have previously made the forward something of a hate figure among Blades fans.
In fact, Madine was dropped by Bolton manager Phil Parkinson for a league trip to United in February, 2017, after a video had emerged online of him making derogatory remarks about Blades striker Sharp.
Warnock, however, does not envisage the Steel City rivalry causing any problems.
“People move clubs,” he added. “It happens. Steve Bruce is Wednesday manager now and no one is going on about him once having managed Sheffield United.
“Nor should they as he is a great appointment. They are lucky to have him at Hillsborough. Same with Gary at Sheffield United.
“He is the best they could get this month, there is no doubt about that. I have done them a big favour if I am honest.”
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