In our Transfers that shook the club feature, Football Transfer Tavern takes a look at deals that many may not have seen coming and the impact that they had during their time by using statistical data and pundit remarks.
Chris Wilder has recently impressed in the Premier League after beating Arsenal and innovative tactics such as his overlapping central defenders have hit headlines. Still, to Blades fans, this will obviously be no surprise.
While there have obviously been many good moments during his reign in charge, perhaps his slightly controversial decision earlier this year was his best of late. In January 2019, Sheffield United went into the New Year sitting in fourth place in the Championship table. They were four points adrift of the top two, and six points above seventh-placed Birmingham City (via BBC Sport).
They knew that they needed to make a couple of marquee signings in the transfer window in order to sustain their place in the top six and perhaps even push on for automatic promotion.
The Blades had already brought in Kieran Dowell at the start of the window, but their second signing was one that nobody in South Yorkshire would have expected to happen.
I don't understand!
— Adam Moody (@Adam_Moody4) January 7, 2019
& this is the same bloke that despises everything about utd 😂😂
— WAWAW (@1867_Owl) January 7, 2019
“Was interested” I hate everything about him.
— Stef (@Spellstef) January 7, 2019
His face tells the whole story we don’t need you to tell to us
— Lee (@T0llerfield) January 7, 2019
Wilder moved to sign Cardiff City striker Gary Madine on a loan deal until the end of the season (via sufc.co.uk). This was a move that divided Blades fans, and there were several reasons why, from the outside, it looked a strange move.
First and foremost, Madine was an ex-Sheffield Wednesday player and scored against United in the derby in 2011 (via BBC Sport). However, other former Owls had previously gone on to play for the Blades such as Derek Geary, Leigh Bromby and Alan Quinn so whilst it was an issue, it was proven that former Wednesday players could make it at United.
Still, on top of his Wednesday allegiances Madine had been jailed for punching a Sheffield United fan in 2013 (via Guardian), whilst a video had found its way onto social media of the striker insulting Blades captain and fans favourite Billy Sharp (via Sheffield Star).
So the list of reasons for the Blades not to sign the player were all there, yet Wilder went ahead with it anyway. He was bullish when asked about the signing, saying: “I’ve made the decision, and it’s my decision. I understand it might not be backed fully, but people must look at the bigger picture with what we’re trying to achieve, and Gary helps that,” (via Yorkshire Post).
And in fairness to Wilder, he got the decision right.
Madine offered a new dimension to their attack which they didn’t previously have. They had a poacher in Sharp and a playmaker in David McGoldrick, but the Cardiff loanee offered a serious aerial threat standing at 1.91m (via Transfermarkt) and was someone who could hold the ball up and alleviate pressure. His presence also allowed the other two strikers the odd game on the bench, keeping them as fresh as possible for the run-in. Interestingly enough, he actually won the second-highest number of aerial duels per game (4.8) than anyone in the Blades’ squad despite only arriving in January.
He also chipped in with three crucial goals, one against Millwall which ensured the Blades gained a point, and a brace against Reading which helped them to a 4-0 victory. Added to that, he also provided a couple of assists (via Transfermarkt).
Sheffield United ended up being promoted in second place (via Sky Sports), and Madine definitely played his part in them getting over the line. However controversial the move looked at the time, it turned out that Wilder, as he usually does, got the decision to sign him spot on.
Sheffield United fans, how did you react when the club signed former Owl Gary Madine? And did he win you over during his spell at Bramall Lane? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below…Like what the TT have on offer? Sign up for more notifications!