Opinion: The curious case of David McGoldrick
Photo by NurPhoto via GettyImages

David McGoldrick has not scored a single goal so far this season. 

For a striker, that would seem to be remarkably poor. The Irishman has gotten plenty of time out on the field, featuring in all but two games for Sheffield United. After 17 Premier League games, that is a shocking return, especially since his team is up to seventh place in the league standings.

However, McGoldrick has been one of the Blades' best players so far this campaign, and has deserved to lead the line on a weekly basis. On the surface, that would make little sense, but some context explains why United fans love the Irishman so much. 

More than meets the eye

Simply put, his impact on the game goes beyond the box score.

As the Blades utilize a 3-5-2 formation, McGoldrick is always playing alongside a strike partner up top, with that usually being Lys Mousset. Those two have to work together when out on the pitch, keeping the United attack balanced.

McGoldrick then acts as the support player as a result. He tends to drop deeper, getting the ball near midfield and linking up play. This helps the team in a number of different ways.

The Blades like to keep possession, and the Irishman makes doing that much easier. With him closer to the center of the park, he becomes an option for others to pass to. Having a teammate nearby at all times is vital, with McGoldrick serving at a safety valve whenever need be.

His passing ability is underrated as well. The Irishman might only have two assists this season, but he knows how to pick out a killer ball in the final third. This was proven in United’s last contest versus Aston Villa, as McGoldrick played a superb pass that set up their second goal.

Stood near the edge of the area, a high ball found its way right to him. Reacting quickly, McGoldrick managed to get his foot up high to flick the ball right over him and in behind the Villa defence. The pass picked out a streaking John Fleck, who was able to volley home from close range. It was a moment of magic that helped seal the three points for the Blades, pushing them further up the table.

The most crucial thing McGoldrick does is open up space further forward for his partner. When he drops in deep, he drags an opposing defender with him. That puts him out of position, and leaves one less defender for the rest of the team to deal with.

It makes it tough for the Irishman to grab goals himself, but he’s willing to risk his own stats for the betterment of the team. His sacrifice is a big reason why Mousset has been able to thrive this season.

Room to improve

McGoldrick is far from perfect, of course, and still has things to work on. His biggest issue is his inefficiency in front of goal. Chances to fall his way from time to time, but the forward lacks the confidence to finish them off. 

He overthinks situations instead of relying on instinct. That will likely change when he does eventually grab a goal, but until then, he has to forget about his drought when on the field.

Even if he doesn’t manage to find the back of the net anytime soon, he’ll deserve to keep his spot in the team as long as he keeps doing everything else out on the field.

If the Blades want to stay near the top of the Premier League standings, then they’ll need McGoldrick to keep up his form. Luckily for United fans, that should not be a problem for the Irishman, who has shown he’s good enough to succeed at the highest level.

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