Recently the Blades have been linked with numerous strikers with Leeds United’s Billy Sharp at the top of that list. But the question is….. do we need him?
Sharp has scored 53 goals in 82 games in League One and has a decent strike rate in the second tier so he certainly knows where the onion bag.
Another positive is that Adkins is the manager who plays to Sharp’s strengths after the forward scored 64 goals in 109 games under the Liverpudlian during his spells with Scunthorpe and Southampton.
Thirdly, most Blades know that nine times out of 10 he’d be back in a heartbeat because of his love and passion for the club.
However, there are some negatives. The past three years the Sheffield-born poacher has bagged 21 times 94 games which really isn’t what we need at Bramall Lane.
Another down note is that after a few injuries I’m not sure he’s the same explosive player he was three or four years back.
Although many are pulling for Sharp to return I think we’ve got someone who is very clinical from inside the 18-yard box. That is striker Marc McNulty.
That doesn’t mean I don’t want Billy, I just think they could be a prolific partnership at this level. Their playing styles are very similar – they both aren’t blessed with the greatest of pace but have that natural knack of popping up in the right place at the right time in the opposition’s penalty area. They are both strong and can hold the ball up. The main difference is though, is Sharp he knows how to get out of Division three and even more, with Nigel Adkins.
McNulty however set himself a standard last term and I think with the potential he has shown he could almost certainly become a lot better than Sharp. So whether it is right to potential block that development for someone who will have no re-sale value is a question that needs to be asked.
Let’s also not forget Welsh forward Matty Done. He arrived at Sheffield United from Rochdale in the 2015 January transfer window after a superb start to the season where he netted 14 times in 20 games at Spotland. Done is slightly different to Sharp and McNulty in that he is a speedy, tricky player who gives opponents no time on the ball. However, he is another who also knows where the net is and with his endless running is a real asset to the squad.
The final player Sharp could put further down the pecking order is Diego De Girolamo. The Italian is a flair player who does things out of the ordinary but isn’t a natural finisher. Diego signed a new contract this summer and is thought to have impressed Adkins in the recent pre-season fixtures. Despite this, I believe the Italy Under-21 will take a bench role this campaign.
Due to this, maybe using the money on Sharp when we have at least two similar players in the squad is not the wisest move. United are missing a battering ram type of striker, like Aaron Wilbraham for Bristol City or Preston’s Kevin Davies, or someone with that technical brilliance that can change a game in a flash. Because of this, and excuse me if I’m dreaming, I’d like to see Arsenal’s Chuba Akpom on loan or Michael Smith from Fulham arrive at Bramall Lane.
The likelihood is though Sharp will arrive. So let’s hope Adkins can have that magic touch and Billy can start firing in the goals for him once again.