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Thread: Season Review 18-19 - Attack

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    1,117

    Season Review 18-19 - Attack

    Strikers

    Billy Sharp, He had a decent season in the Championship with 12 goals and maybe bettered expectations. Certainly, many rival fans felt that he would not do anything at this level and was too old. He scored some ***** goals and even though he had spells without scoring, Clarke’s form was so good, it meant that he played second fiddle on this front. He performed well though and you he adapted fine to the Championship where he had played before and done very well. A year older, you felt we would add competition and he may even be in and out. He actually began the season off the bench but after a poor start came in at QPR and scored. He then got a late winner at the Kop end v rivals Norwich and continued to score with a further 4 in 5 including a typical Sharp type brace at Blackburn. He got a hat trick in the game against Wigan with all three being poachers’ efforts and after scoring a goal at Ipswich (after a lean spell) he had equalled his figure of the previous season by Xmas.

    He then scored 4 goals in the Xmas period with some ***** goals, including a brace v Blackburn at the Kop End with a great strike on his second and then became the all-time leading scorer in the English League’s when he finished a lovely team move at Wigan. A lot of media attention came his way and rightly so after this.

    He scored another brace at Norwich and had the celebration of the season that led to Wrestling superhero Mick Foley coming to the Lane after more positive media attention was created. He got another v Bolton after making one for McGoldrick. He then scored a superb hat trick at Villa and with us 3-0 United had put in the performance of the season. The meltdown after Sharp went off seemed to hit him hard after the game when he bravely came and did an interview. He looked shell shocked and would surely have played an important role in helping rally the troops after this catastrophic ten-minute period.

    After the Villa game; I felt his form remained good even if the goals dried up with only 1 in 9 before he got injured in the game against Millwall. He actually still worked hard and ran the line superbly chasing things down, holding things and never giving defenders a moment. The Leeds game he was very good and I felt Brentford and others when we needed a real shift, he put it in. I do feel despite scoring against Bristol City that his form trailed off and he looked a bit tired and less of a threat in both scoring and just nuisance value. He got an injury in the game at Millwall and as he limped up and saw the late goal went in, he may have felt his dream ending to the season and the promotion prize had gone. The team got it together and he saw some time in the game at home to Ipswich and had a few openings but it did not matter he did not score. He was part of the game that helped us seal promotion. He played at Stoke but was denied a goal by a hand ball but made the second equaliser. As he did in League One, he led the celebrations. Like Wilder he was quite emotional. To lead his boyhood club as captain to the Premier League after leaving them twice when it did not quite work out, must have been really special. He is living the dream every one of us would love to experience. Such a great guy who loves the community work and always takes time to talk to fans, young and old – he is a great role model. The players clearly look up to him and he has developed into a fantastic leader. I will be honest I was not sure about him as a striker and not someone I saw as that type of person, being captain and leader but how wrong I was. He has taken to the role so well and now he leads the group on and off the pitch. They respect him and you can see that even in the celebrations at the end of the season. Loved seeing him jumping up and down with his shirt off to lead the jubilant scenes in the Copthorne as the players shouted, ‘You fat b*****d!’’ at him. It meant so much to him. He carried on performing his duties, going to more corporate events, doing interviews, TV shows and despite his croaky voice and suffering from the excesses continued to represent the club.

    Named in both the PFA and EFL teams of the year and right up there for the player of the year award. For me this season was not just about 23 goals. He was so important in this respect but his all-around performances were massively improved. In the previous season if he did not score, he was sometimes quiet and I felt we lacked a bit up that area but what an improvement this year. He seems to be fitter than ever and some of his work rate and hold up has been superb. He has made sure defenders do not have a moment and has linked better with other players. I think McGoldrick’s play suits him better than Clarke as he will do more running and set up play where as Clarke was more direct and played further up the field sometimes compressing space. Sharp seems now to know his strengths more. His habit of sticking his erm…backside into people and holding it up or winning a free kick has become a real skill but he has seemed so much more determined this year. He has chased lost causes and been stronger and has lasted 90 minutes more than ever.

    As for next season, some will say he lacks the pace and dynamism to play the higher level and that is why he did not play for Southampton or anyone else up here but I feel he will want to prove people wrong. I do not see him starting every week but he has never been that fast and goal scorers will score at any level. I would not be shocked if he still weighed in with quite a few goals and continued to lead the team as club captain on and off the field. Another player that embodies what it is to be a Blade and now will go down in folklore as a hero up there with past strikers like Deane and Edwards.

    Grade A (Last season B-)

    David McGoldrick There was a lot of talk over the summer but the ownership situation not resolved we did not have the fund to properly compete with other clubs in this area. Hogan was linked but this never happened as he was not fully fit and then we heard McGoldrick was coming on trial. I was extremely underwhelmed. A decent but journeyman Championship centre forward who was the wrong side for 30, was not prolific and also very injury prone. I had seen him play before but thought he was more of a target man type and never have I got a player so wrong in terms of his style. He came in and got a contract and very quickly showed United fans what a talent he was and why other teams surely missed a trick by not going in for him. Lovely feet, Didzy as he became know came off the front and held it up, linked play and showed some sublime touches. His body swerves away from players and his upper body strength helped us retain possession but he could pass, link and run with it over a short distance. Quicker than you thought over a few years. Ironic that his heading although decent was actually one of his poorer parts of his play!

    Wilder actually started with Clarke and McGoldrick but the former never got going at all and eventually after McGoldrick scored the winner at QPR after winning a penalty; he ended up alongside Sharp and really rubber stamped his place at home to Villa. A superb performance from him and the team and he never looked back. Clarke did come back for the odd game but McGoldrick would then often play off the front and it was rare he was not involved in some capacity. He scored the winner v Preston and then two crucial goals at Millwall. Another penalty against Hull this time, sent us top of the league and his partnership with not just Sharp but also with Duffy and other players around him started to really flourish. He had a few off games for a spell and then missed a penalty in the Sheffield Derby and the goals dried up a bit until he scored 3 in 4 with some close-range efforts but well executed (the chest pass goal v Blackburn) and then a sublime goal at home to Derby where he deftly lobbed the keeper. He suddenly went from a player that may compete at the top to someone who was now a key man. Clarke was allowed to move on and even though added competition came in from Hogan and Madine, he was the main man up top even more than Sharp in some ways who was rested and rotated more than him. The goals kept coming and then as the final part of the season commenced, he really upped his game when others faltered for a period (before they regained form) and he along with Stevens was the stand out. Some ***** goals at Preston and Hull where he was simply outstanding.

    To see him celebrate with the players it meant a lot to a player that has played almost exclusively in the Championship and never at the top level. He seemed to gell with the players who loved him and the ‘Oh David McGoldrick!’ song became a feature of the season and particularly the run in. A cool customer he seemed so chuffed, in his own understated way when we got it over the line. Watching him dance with Wilder in the car part was great to see. He finished with 15 goals and 7 assists but was involved in so much of our good play and when we were on song it was when him and Duffy were pulling the strings. The ability to sit in and play the 10; but even when up front he would still come back and often be our deepest player dictating the play. A player that has so many more skills and qualities than I ever thought and someone who should and now will play higher. Be interesting to see how he fares in the top flight. He clearly had the ball control, touch and vision to play higher I feel but whether his lack of top-drawer pace and athleticism may see some question marks. We will bring other strikers in and he may not play every game but his ability to play two positions helps us massively. A superb signing and a cult hero for Dem Blades as he loved to keep calling us at the end of season celebrations.

    Grade A- (Last season NA)

  2. #2
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    Aug 2008
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    Leon Clarke It was always a big stretch for Clarke to even come close to replicating what he did the previous season and you know what, he got nowhere near. He stated the season poorly missing chances in the opening games and then lost his place to McGoldrick. He was in and out of the team but the preferred front two seemed to be Sharp and McGoldrick who had taken his chance well and started to score but also link play and be better for the team. Clarke was not really making an impact even as a sub although finally scored in the game against Stoke and then played well up top with Sharp, with McGoldrick behind in the win against Wigan and made a goal for Sharp with a lovely ball. He went back to the bench but scored a lovely goal at Griffin Park to win it, after missing an easier chance and then a month later scored the clincher at home to Derby. This was his last goal for United (at least this season). He played against Barnet and came on against QPR and at Swansea but then as Hogan and Madine came in, was allowed to leave. A few Championship clubs were linked but he went to Wigan, where he once was on loan before.

    He was an instant hit and scored in his first game and got another a few games after but then he ended up out of the team and the Wigan fans were not that impressed on the whole after a good start but then he got back in the team and scored a few more ***** goals and assisted in the win at Leeds which helped United. It seemed that player that ran around like crazy, pressing, harrying, but also holding it up and looking like a top, top striker, was back to the hit and miss (lazy at times) player he had been much of his career though much of this season.

    Last season he was fantastic. He led the line, was a menace and times was unplayable. He was fast, strong, a willing runner and a goal threat. Villa supposedly wanted to pay quite a bit for him and on reflection we maybe should have took it but at the time we were in the top 6 and he was in the form of his life so if we had sold him everyone would have moaned so we were right to keep him. However, we kind of knew it might not last and so it proved. He started the season in languid form and could not find the net and eventually he was taken out of the team and then moved on. Even the motivator that Wilder is, probably realised he was never going to get that out of him again.

    He has played for 21 different clubs (well a bit less as he has been at Wigan and Wolves twice) but that still tells a story. He showed some promise in his early days at Wolves and then scored goals at the lower level with Coventry, Bury and then with us, but that one season he has in the Championship was his pinnacle for me. We should be thankful Wilder got him playing out his skin and he gave us that one season to remember. He has never really replicated this season any time before and he has only scored 9 goals (including 5 this season) in 13 different Championship seasons before this. Yes, I could not believe it. Most of his goals have come at the lower level but even then, he has only managed 3 double figure scoring seasons with 15 at Bury/Coventry each and 11 at S****horpe. That one season was definitely an outlier.

    He still has another season and doubt Wigan will sign him based on the fact he has not even started every game. He was made available for transfer but we may have to loan him out again to another Championship team. I would be surprised if he is part of things at the start of the season as expect us to make signings to compliment what we have and not sure he will ever replicate what he did in 17/18. Still, whatever happens he has been a big part of the turnaround and his form (like many others who were middle of the road players, Coutts, Duffy, Fleck etc) summed up how good Wilder is and what he has done to such nomadic players. To see McGoldrick face timing him and the players chanting his name was superb at the end celebrations at the end of the season! They clearly realised what a part of things he had been.

    Grade C- (Last season B+)


    Scott Hogan We were linked with him last summer but Bruce opted to keep him. It seemed he was on quite big wages also and was still getting back to fitness. The rumours never abated and we looked at him again in the August window but it never happened. He did not play much for Villa at all with only a few sub appearances. He had only scored 7 goals in 3 seasons, albeit not as many games due to injuries since his big money buy from Brentford. Villa brought in more strikers and he was further down the pecking order. Wilder kept an interest and eventually with Dean Smith taking charge, he was allowed to come to the Lane.

    With Sharp, McGoldrick and also Hogan, you sensed he would not start many games. He had a few sub appearances but got his first game time against Reading and did ok linking with Madine and unlucky not to score. Certainly, a promising debut with movement, playing on the shoulder and a bit pf pace. After this, he was back on the bench but then started against Rotherham. He did not really affect things much in this game and then was really poor against Brentford when we needed more especially with 10 men and was taken off. He came on against Bristol City and did ok and scored his first goal. He then started at Hull and also against Ipswich and his movement was very good and he got into some good positions or created space for others. He scored a ***** goal in the last home game that set us on our way although missed a few too.

    I am not sure I have seen enough to take him on. He still has another 2 years on his contract. I am not sure Villa would ask for a lot for him but paid decent money and would probably rather just send him out on loan and get loan fees than lose the investment they made.

    His career total is 78 in 203 so around 1 in 3 which is not too bad but only had two biggish scoring seasons, one at Rochdale and one at Brentford and these both earned him big money moves. Still only 26 his career seemed to have been really stop start and needs a season of starting games. Not sure at United that will happen. He came in and provided some competition but not sure I have seen enough of him in terms of what he offers that he is a top end Championship striker let alone a Premier League one. He is ok, but we need better than ok in terms of movement, pace, link up, hold up and not sure he really suits out type of style either.

    Grade C+ (Last season NA)

  3. #3
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    Aug 2008
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    Gary Madine Controversial signing to say the least. He was linked with us in January and most people thought it was a joke but then it seemed like it was happening as rumours grew and he signed. Wilder felt it was a risk worth taking. Madine had been involved in several city centre spats with both sides of the cities fans and also had quite a public feud on social media with Blades skipper Billy Sharp. Wilder met him and felt he was so keen to join the club and the pressure the move would attract that he rolled the dice. Taking away the off the field stuff, he was also a thorn in United’s sign. He did not score many goals in his career but wherever he played he was a handful. A big, physical lad whom defences knew they had been in a game but a decent touch and more mobile than you thought. Clearly the Premier League was a step too far and he was frozen out under Warnock but Wilder hoped he could do a similar job for us, as he did for the Bluebirds in their promotion run in. He does not score many goals – 71 in 329 which is 1 goal in 4 and a half games which is not great for a striker and one that has played a lot in the lower leagues (Carlisle, Wednesday and Bolton- all League One). Wilder saw enough that he could make a difference and provide something different to what we had.

    He came on at Swansea but worryingly we punted it long to him but the next week he played well with Sharp in a good draw at Norwich. His Lane bow came as a sub against Bolton to a good reaction despite the mixed reviews on forums/social media and did ok showing his hold up but decent skill too. He played well in his first start at Villa and set up two goals and linked well with Sharp and then was a game changer when we beat Middlesbrough. His strength and heading meant a tight defence were pulled apart and he certainly had a big hand in us winning this game. He then scored two at Reading and was excellent. After this he and the other strikers rotated around a bit (not always due to form) but he did not play great in the Derby and missed a decent chance at the Kop end at Hillsborough early on and spent more time grappling with the defenders than going for the ball at times. After this he then started against Brentford but committed a stupid tackle and was sent off. This robbed us of his services for three games when we could have done with him against Bristol City and Preston.

    He came back against Birmingham as a sub and then did likewise v Millwall and scored and then started against Forest and did ok but was used more of a nuisance threat in these final games and often off the bench as he went with Hogan rather than him in the Hull/Ipswich game. Came on in the final match at Stoke.

    Overall, he did ok despite the stupid red card and a few so-so games. He did make an impact and gave us something different. At times we went a bit too long to him which we did not need to, as he is decent and quite mobile and can play in others with his chest and feet. It was not as if he asked us to pump it long. I felt he definitely made sure defenders had something else to worry about. He does not lose many headers and is a really strong boy. At times he loses his head a bit (few other daft tackles even outside the red card) but did show he wanted to be here and displayed a lot of passion – more so than maybe Hogan, Johnson and Dowell – other loan players. I believe he has the best chance of remaining but Cardiff may feel he may be needed again at a lower level and Wilder’s comments did not seem to show much interest in bringing him back immediately. They did pay 6 million for him and he has another two years left on his contract down there. We will see. I would not be averse to us signing him as another option so long as we signed a really top drawer, quick and younger player to compliment him Sharp and McGoldrick. Indeed, we would need to sign probably two top class strikers and then have the two starters of this year and maybe Madine as a bit of a wild card but not sure he is quite good enough for the top level. He did end up being liked by the players and to hear Billy say ‘What do you think of Gary Madine?’ mocking the phone clip when he was asked the same of Billy a few years previous showed how part of things he was as the United fans sang his name! Also came out on the bus and sang ‘Mind the Gap!’ further endearing him to the Blades fans.

    Grade C+ (Last season NA)

    Conor Washington Bit of a left field signing this one. We needed another striker and struggled to get anything over the line so Wilder took a punt on him as he was allowed to leave QPR on a free and we signed him till the end of the season. He scored goals at Peterborough and did well in his early days at Loftus Road and ended up in the Northern Ireland squad but fell by the way side somewhat. QPR changed managers quite a bit and he ended up frozen out. Always seemed a quick player who could get behind defences but lacked composure when he got there as his goal record suggested. I am sure Wilder saw him being used as a late impact sub when defences got tired and that is how he was employed as he helped us see time out in various games early on. He had a few half chances in games (Blackburn away for instance) but only had limited time really.

    He started against Birmingham but barely touched the ball and went back to the bench. His next outing came at Brentford and I felt this was his best game for United. He ran his socks off and set up the winner. You felt he could maybe then have more of a role but played at Reading and was as ineffective as the Birmingham game and went back to the bench. He was ineffective against Barnet and with new signings coming in, did not even make the bench for much of the run in. He did make fleeting appearances at Norwich and Villa but would only be used in the match day squad if one of the other four were injured/suspended. Came on at Hull though briefly as we saw out this game.

    We only took him on a one-year deal so his contract is up this summer and he will move on. He did not make much of an impact really and others moved ahead of him. He needs to go into League One where he can start regularly – maybe he will end up back at Posh with Darren Ferguson back in charge down there.

    Grade C- (Last season NA)

  4. #4
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    Aug 2008
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    The rest

    Ched Evans came in controversially just after we got promoted but never really established himself at all and looked a long way off the pace. Seemingly always injured he actually did play 9 games but cannot recall many stand out performances and he was largely quite poor, lacking pace, strength and quality needed for the higher level. He looked a long way from the player who ripped up League One when he was last at United. Fleetwood signed him on loan and he found his scoring boots again. Despite a few more injuries he has played most of the season and done well for Joey Barton. He nearly ended up at Bolton but was probably glad he didn’t in the end. He scored 18 goals and got back to leading the line for a side on the fringes of the playoffs.

    Evans has another season to go but it would be in the best interests of all if he was allowed to leave. He has done well at League One for a few clubs but has never proved to be good enough consistently at anything above this and that was even before a long time out of the game although that long spell away prevented any chance for him to go on and prove he could be a competent and effective player in the top two divisions. An odd signing from Wilder that never worked and in his second spell he was ineffective.

    Caolan Lavery was very much part of things in the title side and scored and assisted quite a few goals. He even was involved in some of the early games in the Championship but increased competition at a higher level and the fact he continued to be injury prone, restricted his chances. He went on loan at Rotherham but was not even a regular there. He was still around to start the season but was not part of the first team squad and eventually went to Bury on loan. He played more here and scored 5 goals but again was not a first team starter every week but was involved in a promotion. He will move on this summer as needs to be playing regularly and lower league is his level despite being a promising player at both Sheffield clubs.

    Jordan Hallam scored a lot of goals at the junior levels and progressed via the age groups. A decent technical player he ended up more in the Duffy type role than as a striker as he lacks pace and strength to maybe be an out and lout forward. Technically very good and takes corners/set plays, he always looked a stand out when I saw the u23s. Had a spell at Chesterfield and I was unsure if he had quite enough to push on here but was pleased S****horpe took him on. He has featured a few times and scored his first goal at Rochdale but was not involved much as the Iron went down. A lad who I hope goes on to have a league career and United again hopefully have a sell on clause for any future deal.

    Tyler Smith played well on loan at Barrow and scored 10 goals. He was brought back as United had a few injuries and he was on the bench against West Brom before he was allowed to move on loan to Doncaster. Wilder felt he needed to be tested at a higher level and he started his spell superbly with two goals as he came on as a sub against Burton. After this he did not feature too much and was mainly on the bench. Indeed, he only played 70 odd minutes I believe. Hopefully he can get a season long loan at League 1/2 next season and continue his progression. A quick player who plays on the shoulders; interesting that Billy Sharp sees a bit of himself in Smith.

    Oliver Greaves was looking really promising till a bad injury but has fought his way back and ended up being a key player for the u23’s and went to Valencia with the first team squad. He was on a contract that ended this summer so be interested if we extend that as I think United think, he has a chance.

    Simeon Oure is a midfielder/striker who has good pace and a bit of a box of tricks. Still feel there is a bit of potential in him but like Greaves unsure if he has another deal.

    David Parkhouse was bizarrely linked with Manchester United a few years ago but now has drifted around a few loan spells in non-league and seems a long way from the 1st team although he did feature as a sub in the cup game against Hull. He ended up on loan at Derry and scored a few goals there. Believe he is out of contract and will leave.

    Reon Potts scored a fair few goals for the u18’s but has struggled to play much for the u23’s.

    Zak Brunt was a player that drew a lot of media interest as he had played or a number of clubs as a young protégé but then was stuck at Derby until he ended up getting out of his Academy contract to sign for Matlock. United feel there is still some potential there and he looked ok in some games I saw if a little slight.


    Next season

    If Clarke moves on then we are left with Sharp and McGoldrick. The loanees will return and not sure they will be back and Washington and Lavery have been released. Expect Evans to move on also and has been listed. We will need to sign 2; maybe 3 signings. We only would have youngsters Smith and Greaves outside of those two senior players. I expect both Sharp and McGoldrick to play a fair bit and the latter even more so. Bill will get games but I doubt he will be a regular. We need pace, athleticism and physical talent in these areas. We will have to spend a lot of money. I like the lad McBurnie and think he works hard, decent in the air and is technically decent -he might be the one I would pursue. Think he might be cheaper than a Maupay who is more of a Sharp type I feel. We will definitely need some pace for the different way we play and a physical better version of Madine who can come in and knock people about. I would not be shocked if this is the area, we break out transfer record.


    Player / Position Years remaining (contract expires)

    Forwards

    Conor Washington Out of contract (2019) - released
    Caolan Lavery Out of contract (2019) - released
    Oliver Greaves Out of contract (2019)
    Simeon Oure Out of contract (2019)
    David Parkhouse Out of contract (2019)
    Tyler Smith 1 year (2020)
    Ched Evans 1 year (2020) – transfer listed
    Leon Clarke 1 year (2020) – transfer listed
    Billy Sharp 2 years (2021)

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