Sheffield United forward David McGoldrick recognises that the Liverpool side who he considers the “best team” he’s ever played against have seen their jigsaw unfold due to injury.
Jurgen Klopp has overseen a dramatic rise and transformation at Liverpool since his arrival more than five years ago, turning nearly men into a relentless force.
Consistency was at the heart of the Reds’ success in the Premier League last season, as was an unwavering relentlessness that McGoldrick even likened to a team of “robots.”
But the side that travels to meet Sheffield United today is a much-changed one from the side who broke countless records as they rampaged to the title.
A long list of injuries has been at the heart of Liverpool’s woes and the Blades’ striker was quick to acknowledge the domino effect that the absence of key players can have on performances and results.
“It sums it up [the craziness of the league with Liverpool’s recent results]. It’s crazy, you would never have thought that playing against them last year and how strong they were,” McGoldrick told Sheffield United’s club website.
“I think they were the best team I’ve ever played against, I thought they were unbelievable.
“It was like robots at times and then a few injuries and this is what happens.
“Injuries are key, we’re missing key players and they’re missing key players and when that happens, a piece of the jigsaw unfolds and things like this happen.”
Chris Wilder’s side are no strangers to a long injury list themselves, with his first-choice back three unavailable tonight in addition to potentially being unable to name a full complement of players on the bench.
McGoldrick’s assessment is an honest one and while he may fancy his chances against a makeshift Liverpool backline this time around, he knows the Reds still pose a threat in attack – and his eyes are on Sadio Mane.
“I just remember playing against [Mane] last year and he was a robot. He was working hard, skipping by people, he was strong,” he added.
“He was just a joy, not to play against because I couldn’t get near him, to see.
“Obviously, Salah’s goal record speaks for itself and if you wanted the goals you’d go for him [as a strike partner], but as an all-round player Mane really stands out for me.”