Sheffield United: Striker Chris is now punching his weight

Chris Porter scores against Gillingham last weekend � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY
Chris Porter scores against Gillingham last weekend � BLADES SPORTS PHOTOGRAPHY

After several false starts and a couple of spells on loan, Chris Porter finally looks like the player Sheffield United thought they had signed three seasons ago.

Having marked his return to Bramall Lane by scoring the match-winning penalty against Colchester, the former Derby County centre-forward was on target again last weekend when Gillingham visited South Yorkshire.

It is still far too early to claim that Porter has rediscovered the touch which once delivered 58 goals in 150 appearances for Oldham Athletic and Motherwell.

Consistency, as Nigel Clough’s immediate predecessors Danny Wilson and David Weir would both doubtless agree, is a quality the 29-year-old has lacked since joining the club on a free transfer.

Nevertheless, credit where it is due. The signs, on the evidence of Porter’s two most recent performances, are certainly encouraging.

So why the change in fortune? In truth, only the player himself knows.

But I’ll hazard a guess that the appointment of Nigel Clough, who made him his first signing after taking charge at Pride Park, has got something to do with it.

Because Porter strikes me as the type of person who needs to feel wanted. An individual who responds better, in the long-term, to an arm around the shoulder rather than a kick up the a**e.

And, do you know what? That’s not a sign of weakness. By all accounts, Gianfranco Zola was exactly the same. Just an illustration that football squads are comprised of many different personalities.

Personally, I like Porter and so would love to see him do well. He always been courteous. Comes across as a decent bloke. Professionally, it would be cowardly of me not to admit I’ve sometimes been his biggest critic in the press room.

Because, for me, he often fails to punch his weight. Big enough to step inside the ring with Archie Moore but, at times, seemingly incapable of flooring Micky Cantwell.

Porter, set to feature against Bristol City tomorrow, is arguably the most frustrating member of United’s squad precisely because he boasts the qualities required to scare defenders witless. Yet, from afar at least, frequently fails to exploit them.

But, take away 30 substitute outings for United and he averages a creditable goal every 3.5 games.

Hopefully, the presence of a manager who clearly believes in him means Porter will now equal the sum of his parts.

And possibly celebrate reaching a half century of starts in United colours by troubling the scoresheet at Ashton Gate.

*Twitter: @JamesShield1