Chris Wilder: David McGoldrick 'makes us tick'

Wilder spoke to new Ireland boss Stephen Kenny earlier this year, outlining his light touch management of McGoldrick toward the end of the season
Chris Wilder: David McGoldrick 'makes us tick'

Sheffield United's David McGoldrick takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement ahead of his 30th top-flight appearance on Monday. Photo: Tim Goode/NMC Pool/PA Wire. 

Of David McGoldrick's 452 appearances in senior club football, fewer than 10% have been in the Premier League.

He made a belated top-flight debut last season with surprise package Sheffield United, and made 28 appearances by the end of the campaign, with two goals to his name.

On Monday night, he reached a personal landmark, making his 30th Premier League appearance against Aston Villa, just two months shy of his 33rd birthday.

The numbers might not seem hugely impressive, but as many managers have learned with the skilful attacker, the more you learn about McGoldrick, the more impressive he becomes.

“He's an important, integral part of our group,” said Blades' boss Chris Wilder. “He's a fabulous lad, a fabulous person, a really good footballer, and we're all delighted he got off the mark last week (he scored in the EFL Cup defeat to Burnley).

He adds something different to us, he's a creative centre-forward, he wants to score goals – but he makes us tick.” 

Wilder is desperate to add striking options to a team that shocked everyone with a ninth-place finish last season – with Liverpool's Rhian Brewster one of the names linked with a move to Bramall Lane.

Whoever arrives, though, won't push McGoldrick out.

“You want strikers to score goals, of course, but the season we had last time out, David was integral to that, he's an all-round player," Wilder explained.

“We didn't fail to get our position because David didn't score, he really was key to how we played. We're all looking for him to take those half chances, to improve our goalscoring tally, but without being too controversial, to get the absolute all round player - that everybody wants – it's going to take an enormous fee and enormous wages and we're not in that position at the moment.

“We're getting players out of the Championship, young players we can improve and hopefully do it in the Premier League.

“But David – especially when you work with him, you see he's a brilliant lad, an extremely talented footballer.” 

Wilder is not the first Premier League manager to look at McGoldrick, the 2019 FAI Senior International Player of the Year, but he's the first to sign him.

If anything, the Sheffield United manager believes the Irishman should have been dining at the top table a long time before now.

“He's really enjoying his time here he's enjoying playing in the Premier League,” he said. “Without being too disrespectful to David, he struggled with injuries and sometimes sliding door moments.

“I know there was a moment when he was possibly going to get a move to Leicester, and then he suffered an injury that kept him out for a considerable period.

“I think he'll look back and maybe think that due to a bounce of the ball, or not staying clear of injuries, he maybe should have played a bit more in this division, because he is so, so talented.

“He works his socks off, he's a favourite of our supporters, and you can look at that and think 'how come that is'? but when you see him play and see him up close, then people see that, and rightly so.” 

Wilder spoke to new Ireland boss Stephen Kenny earlier this year, outlining his light touch management of McGoldrick toward the end of the season, when he played 90 minutes just three times in the club's final 10 games.

The forward sat out Kenny's first game against Bulgaria, but came off the bench against Finland and is likely to be part of the squad against Slovakia for next month's Euro 2020 play-off.

“I spoke to Stephen and our first contact was about David and his situation, because he didn't play a lot of football to the back end of last season,” Wilder explained. 

“He didn't train a lot, so I advised Stephen on that situation. I know Keith Andrews really well too, I've known him for a few years, he's a great guy, and I spoke to him about it.

All the boys are extremely positive about going to play for their country and rightly so. Obviously, there's a new manager in there, and they want to impress as well.

“It's a new era, Mick [McCarthy] was a brilliant manager, I've a huge amount of respect for what he did in the game, but obviously Stephen is taking over now and I wish him all the best.” 

Kenny has a lot to thank Wilder for, with McGoldrick, John Egan and Enda Stevens all enjoying regular Premier League action under his leadership.

McGoldrick's 28 appearances last season is a decent return but Egan (36) and Stevens (38) both easily outstripped him.

“It's brilliant to see them playing for Ireland and it can only enhance their game playing against world class players,” Wilder said.

“They play a bit of a different system, it's different for John and for Enda, but they're both great kids, very competitive and want to do well at club level and for their country. There's obviously a big Irish influence on our team and I really enjoy watching them play for their country. I also know, speaking to them, how much it means putting on the shirt to represent Ireland.”

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