Alan Biggs at Large: Sheffield United’s big midweek win can’t mask the need for striking reinforcements

Blackpool's Steve Davies
Blackpool's Steve Davies

Strange to say of a team that has just hit four goals and belatedly scored more than two at home for the first time in the league this season, but Sheffield United’s need for a striker - a certain type of striker - looks as pressing as ever.

Pace and power: every successful team needs both. United might just have the pace now that Matty Done is teaming up with Jamie Murphy, Jamal Campbell-Ryce and company. The power is a vital work in progress.

Matt Done (centre) is congratulated after scoring on his United debut

Matt Done (centre) is congratulated after scoring on his United debut

Nigel Clough rightly refused to let a 4-1 win gloss over a patchy performance against Colchester on Tuesday and sounded a season-long refrain when it came to agreeing, in part, with a restless crowd that there was “more to come” from his side.

He’s looking again for the catalyst.

By common consent, United have a squad rich in technical ability.

The lack of goals is not, to my mind, an indication of a defensive-minded manager, contrary to a criticism often levelled at Clough.

It just doesn’t stand up when most members of whichever eleven he puts out are naturally attack-minded.

Even central defenders Chris Basham and Jay McEveley (whose rare midweek goal was a screamer) like to play out from the back, which is the way Clough wants it.

With that comes a certain fragility, which explains the boss’s preference for 4-5-1, albeit that he pushed up two-goal Jose Baxter alongside debut scorer Done in midweek.

United, as a whole, are far from a physical side. In fact, not being a big team can be a weakness against some opposition.

Preston won that particular battle in the FA Cup replay win.

It all points to the need for a more orthodox line leader. United simply don’t have a target man type if you discount Michael Higdon, who has failed so far to be the answer in that position.

With the much desired Chris O’Grady unavailable, speculation might return to Blackpool’s Steve Davies considering that Clough’s trusted ex-Derby players are ones he pursues doggedly.

Pool have made the loan signing of Wednesday’s Gary Madine, who came on for Davies on Tuesday. Makes you wonder whether a loan deal might be possible again, perhaps leading to a permanent.

But there were other targets as the Telegraph went to press.

Whatever, Saturday’s visit to leaders Bristol City is huge - mainly for the fact that second-placed Swindon lost at Oldham on Tuesday, reducing the gap to 15 points.

It’s unlikely United can bridge it, but not entirely out of the question if they win their games in hand.

And Clough has the manpower to freshen his side at every turn - barring the required stronger presence up front.

Being back in the top six delivers the fundamental requirement.

United just need to rekindle a cup-tie feel to the run-in after their magnificent efforts in both major competitions.