In defence of Jermaine Beckford TSS November 11, 2009 Leeds United 27 Comments Before last nights JPT game myself and a few other Leeds United fans got chatting to some Grimsby fans over the threat Jermaine Beckford would cause their defence. Whilst I was adamant they needed to keep him under control if they were to stand any chance of getting a result, the other Leeds fans did nothing but put him down. The Grimsby Town fans couldn’t believe what they were hearing and met the Leeds fans replies with complete derision. Surely a striker with such an impressive goal-scoring record is always a threat? Apparently not if you listen to some of our fans. In a lot of ways, Jermaine Beckford has fallen to the same fate as Mark Viduka before him. Despite his impressive goal-scoring record, he’s not the kind of player that’s going to run around like a headless chicken trying to get the ball. Instead, he’ll make sure he’s in the right position for the other players on the team to supply him with the ammunition he needs. Indeed, Jermaine Beckford is very much the League One equivalent to our Premier League Aussie frontman. Whilst I too can get frustrated with Jermaine at times, his record speaks for itself. The ones who insist on putting him down aren’t going to change their opinion of him, but it’s no coincidence he’s scored the amount he has. When the teams playing well and he’s supplied adequately, he’ll produce the goods. I admit there are a lot of games where Jermaine misses more chances than he takes. The fact of the matter is though; he’s a League One striker for a reason – he isn’t Thierry Henry who presented with a one on one opportunity will seldom fail to convert. If Jermaine Beckford was to convert every opportunity he was given, then he’d probably have scored 100 goals this season. The reality is that no striker converts every opportunity they get. If they did, then what would be the point of a defence and a goalkeeper? I think the main reason Becks gets such criticism though is because of what we expect from our players. We expect hard-working, battling players that fight for every ball. The Billy Bremner, David Batty and Alan Smith’s of this world that we once idolised. Taking Alan Smith as an example, the lad was never the most naturally talented footballer. His goal-scoring record was hardly first rate either, but he worked hard and fought for everything – much like Lucciano Becchio today – so to the Leeds faithful, he was a hero that could do no wrong. Jermaine on the other hand doesn’t tend to track back and fight for the ball. He waits for his opportunities like most strikers do and is always a threat when they come. He gets the stick he does because when Leeds United aren’t playing well, we expect him to change a game and produce something special. Look at Millwall in the play-offs last season. I aren’t going to try and make out like Jermaine had a good game because he didn’t, but then neither did a lot of players within that team. The penalty was a terrible miss that no player will ever forget, but the two goals conceded were the main reason we didn’t go through. Jermaine was the usual easy target though and the one everyone pointed the finger at. The same happened at Wembley the year before. Did anyone have a good game that day? The entire team didn’t turn up, not just Jermaine. The team needs to work as a unit for players to be affective; there are very few players throughout the world that can change a game single-handedly. I guess the arguments come up again on account of the Newcastle United rumour. People are debating whether we can cope without him or not. Personally, I think he’s a valuable asset, but one player doesn’t make a team and we should be able to continue strongly without him. £5m (if true) is far too much to turn down for a player who looks unlikely to sign his contract. That said, I’d be sad to see him leave. He’s done brilliantly for Leeds and should always be remembered favourably. Before an argument takes place below this post let me just clarify my position. I aren’t saying Jermaine Beckford is perfect, but we are lucky to have him. He’s done well for the club during his time here and should be celebrated, not subjected to endless whining. Wherever his future lies, I wish him all the best and thank him for the memories he’s provided. Techno He’s class and I also think irreplaceable at this standard and most possibly beyond, even in the CCC he will score many goals I’m sure. His goalscoring record alone is enough for me to call him one of the greatest players Leeds has ever had, up there with the legends, not bad for three years service. I really hope we get to see him with us in the CCC, if any one of our players deserves that Beckford does. LEGEND IN THE MAKING. Still more to come from him, I don’t think he’s reached his full potential yet. I’ll defend Beckford all day long, no probs, his stats speak for themselves. MOT. Kernow Going nowhere – and five million is pure fantasy. If he joins Newcastle for 5 million I’ll go and buy a hat and eat it. Sometimes he reminds me of another frustratingly talented Leeds striker – Mark Viduka. Not in style of play, or overall skill level, but that ability to disappear from a game or two games, then come storming back in the next and score a hat-full. I think what frustrates us is that we see someone who obviously has talent, but one who lacks that extra dedication and application that’ll take him into the realms of great players. Viduka could have been a great player – instead I think he’ll always be remembered with frustration by Leeds fans. Beckford is still young – but my gut feeling is he’ll be with us until the end of the season and then move on as a free agent. Until then his agent will be priming the press with lots of stories about big clubs. JB I have this same argument with my teenage son all the time. He can see Beckford as lazy and always missing chances. I see a player who knows how and when to make a run and where to be at the right time. No other player gets as many chances, for a reason, he is in the right place and making the right runs. He’s a natural and we are lucky to have him. I also agree he is not irreplaceable at this level for the right money, but I’d rather keep him at least for the next level up. I even think he has worked harder this season and put more effort in. Why not support a player who can help us get out of this division. Let’s get behind him, and get out of here. I’m fed up with Yeovil, Brighton, and Exeter. jason swift His first touch is mostly awful and just that rules him out of playing any higher than League 1. He is a fairy when it comes to heading the ball .You will never read a reprot that says Beckfor soared majestically above the defence to head home. His passing is poor. He is quick which makes him a handful for defences. Yes, he is good for us in League 1 but a few games on the subs bench might do him good when Becchio is fit. If Leeds are offered any money for him in January they should take it and laugh all the way to the bank Paul South Wales He’s the best striker in this league by a country mile, and although he doesn’t track back, i’d rather have him and his goals than an Alan Smith type, who was like a speedboat without a driver. I would like to see how Beckford would do in the CCC, and i hope it’s with Leeds. Can’t see him going for anywhere near £5M, and if we get that then let him go. However good strikers are, there’s always someone emerging as the next best replacement. MOT Jasonb17 Im sorry, jermaine beckford frustrates me something rotten, he cant be bothered, he seems to lack passion n the ability to want the ball, my personal opinion is he was playing his way out of the team on tuesday, i think hes off, no 2 ways about it, he thinks hes bigger than us, and its time to show him hes not, leave him out, have becchio n snoddy upfront for a while, let him know he isnt the best thing thats ever happened, and as far as saying hes one of the greats? 54 in 94 says alot, but i have to be honest, hes not one of the greats……his lack of passion and sometimes composure, and dedication to leeds united is enough to say he isnt one of the greats, he knows we want him, hes doing a ronaldo at scum, draggin it out, not sayin a thing…..i think him stayin this year is delayin the inevitable, hes league one through n through n he wont make it anywhere else other than league… jacccqqques Two main points that have already been summed up for me. His first touch is mostly awful. 9 times out of 10 when the ball is played up to him to hold and distribute to a team mate he miss controls or plays a poor pass. That said, his goal scoring record suggests he would do a reasonable job in the CCC. Not sure he has enough to be premiership class unless he improves his first touch. As for 5 million, I would imaging that is the size of the package Newcastle are willing to offer him. There is no way any team will pay that in January when he is available on a free at the end of the season. He will go at the end of the season. Newcastle and other teams at the top end of the Championship will be able to pay him more in wages as any potential transfer fee can be added to what they can already offer him. (If they can afford 20 grand a week anyway, a million transfer fee equates to a further 20 grand a week). There is no way we can match the wages he can receive elsewhere. Finally, a legend? Yes his record is very good but he is not fit to wash the kit of the old legends who performed every week at the highest level, not the third tier in a team that is really in a different league to the majority of the other teams in the division. Lee B On the general subject of strikers (which applies to Beckford as well as all of our other strikers), I remember Mark Hughes a few years ago talking about Alan Smith. He was saying that his hard work and effort makes things happen, he unsettles defenders when they feel they ought to be comfortable. For this reason he liked Smith and other hard working strikers. On the other hand, Ruud Gullit said (on a different occasion) that he preferred his strikers to be patient and wait for their opportunities. At the top end of the game, he said, chances don’t come along very often, and when they do you have to put them away. That requires you to be sharp and alert. Running around all game like a headless chicken will take your sharpness away and leave you off your best when a great chance comes in the 90th minute (when defences are tiring). So there we have it – Mark Hughes likes strikers who work hard, Ruud Gullit likes strikers to be fresh and sharp. Me? I think football needs all types of player and it’s a manager’s job to blend them in the best way possible. I think that’s why certain combinations work well and others don’t. Football is all about links and partnerships all over the pitch, not about individuals. If Beckford is lazy and scores 30+ goals, then so be it – others have obviously contributed to setting up the chances, and that’s what being a team is all about… Acid Nicely put Lee.. I can’t argue with the comments made. I’m sick of Beckford haters.. but that’s typical of us Leeds fans,. we have to hound and bitch about one of the lads at least. lol Grumpy Older Man Very simple responce from me, when you use terms like “headless chickens” to describe professional footballers who graft (and have no less finishing skill than the lazy) you show a shallow understanding of the concept of “team”. I repeat what I have always said about Beckford, he IS lazy, he MISSES too many chances, he has an ATTITUDE. The question you should be asking is what COULD he be if he rectified those aspects of his game. Whilst he doesn’t, and has people like your good self making excuses for him, he remains a L1 standard player. Grumpy Older Man Actually their is more to say and that is the real truth on Beckford. he should be grateful to the club for bringing him on from the limited raw material purchased from Wealdstone, he should be thanking his team mates every day for how they feed his wasteful shooting and compensate for his inadequencies, he should be thinking every day “how do I show my gratitude to the fans” (who don’t show their irritation with him whilst games are on although sometimes I think we should). The answer to the latter is simple, sign a contract. Would still have him out the door for anything over £3m but at least he would be ours to profit from. Truth is he doesn’t give a monkeys, he and his agent will milk this to death and a lot of supporters of Jermaine are going to ge miffed at some point during January when he shows us the same level of loyalty as that other over-rated lazy striker mentioned in your original post! Colin I tell you what – if £5m came in for Beckford, I wouldn’t take it. Too many posters aren’t looking at the full picture. Forget about Beckford’s abilities as an individual and think about what he provides to the team. When he plays, the opposition are forced to change their style of play: They have to remove any plans for playing the off-side trap because Beckford will stay up front against the last man and is too fast and could break their off-side trap They can’t play zonal marking because that would leave Beckford in too much space. That leaves only one way for their defence to play – man mark Jermaine Beckford. This is why Beckford ‘disappears’ in games. He doesn’t disappear, he’s just getting marked out of some games. Additionally, the opposition have to choose their fastest central defender to mark Beckford (because of his pace). Their fastest central defender may not necessarily be their best defender. Often in League 1, the best defenders are the old timers who’ve dropped down the leagues and have the skill, but their pace has gone, making them useless as a man marker on Beckford. Beckford then runs on the left, the right and up the middle, thus dragging his marker with him and we all know in this league that some of the opposition players just don’t have the legs to keep up with the younger, more agile Leeds players. The result is holes, and lots of them, in the opposition defence. One of the key reasons for Bradley Johnson scoring so many this season is because at set pieces, the opposition HAVE to mark Beckford closely, freeing up Johnson and others. A lot of Leeds’ success isn’t necessarily Beckford scoring goals, but Beckford making a nuisance of himself and disrupting the opposition and letting the other Leeds players take their chances. If Leeds keep Beckford, we will be promoted, and we will gain more than £5m in revenue for that. Without Beckford, the team would have to restructure and I wouldn’t be so confident of promotion. We’re not talking about some small club here to whom £5m would make or break their season, we’re talking about Leeds. And for the sake of £5m, I’d take promotion rather than the risk of not getting it. Norwegian Leeds Fan I couldn’t agree more with you Colin. He is underestimated, and I hope I can see what he is able to in the CCC for us next season (provided we get there of course). I think most teams will take him seriously for the first 5-6 games, and then let him go a bit, providing him time and space to show his brilliance in CCC as well. I know, it’s a dream, but what else can you do than dream of him realizing his full potential? Moojoo Hi everyone: this is my first post on a site that I’m increasingly keen to visit each day. Some real quality within its pages…I hope it goes from strength to strength. Anyway… I wish I was as erudite as Colin- a post that is so spot on, and thought through. Personally,I think Beckford is, quite literally, priceless to Leeds at the moment. He’s a striker. He scores loads of goals. Season upon season.What more do people want? Yes, he’s got a sulky face he sometimes puts on-so what? (So has Jack Dee, even whaen he’s being funny!)Now to Alan Smith: HE used to drive me mad! Very very occasionally, he was a great striker. But mostly, he was a tireless workhorse who produced very little-other than red and yellow cards. I kept expecting him to develop into a…well, a Beckford-style regular scorer. (So did England, and other clubs.Man U gave up and stuck him in midfield!)My point of view? Becks can posture,appear to sulk, and look lazy all he likes (he isn’t): he’s the best predatory striker this club has found since Alan Clarke. And I actually believe he’ll not only take us up to the Championship, but will stay with us there…and score the goals we need to consolidate our first season on the way back up.If we don’t love him, some other fans surely will… askgledders.com The rumour mill says that at the end of last season, he was earning 4K (a week), wanted 10 and we offered 7. He will NOT get 20K in the prem. So there you go. If that’s true, we could pay easily him another 150K a year (to make 10K a week) to keep him with us in the CCC. It’s Simon Grayson’s decision really as to whether he’s worth it or if we get a another free. For me, he scores goals and that’s what he’s there for. He’s worth a lot more than an extra 150K a year to my mind even if he doesn’t play every game next season. We can easily afford him if we’re in the CCC so to me he scores and he’s a cheap option. Decision made. Having said that I sometimes get really annoyed with his attitude. He’s arrogant, which is what gets up people’s noses. Let’s have a whip-round for a personality transplant. askgledders.com Colin. Probably the wisest words I’ve ever heard. Spot on. Grumpy Older Man http://clarkeonenil.co.uk/front-page/grimsby-town-blatent-rip-off-but-too-funny-not-to-do-it Now that is a Grimsby fan who knows his football…. askgledders.com genius TSS Yeah, that was pretty funny. It’s frustrating when you’re on such a bad run like Grimsby, but I’m sure it’s more an issue of confidence than lack of talent on the players part. They need a new mananger in by the look of it to freshen things up a bit. Wizzy I think it is foolish to underestimate the value of Beckford’s contribution over the course of a season which is proving to be consistently high for the third season in a row. It has been predominantly his goals that over the last two and a half seasons have placed us technically in an automatic promotion spot (2007-2008), a play-off spot (2008-2009) and now breaking away this season at the top of the league. He is largely a League One player though because his basic football abilities in control and passing are below the standard expected at Championship (never mind Premier League) level. Also, the writer points to the play-off final in 2008 and the Milwall semi-final games last year. This should also be extended to the semi-final games against Carlisle. These were five of the biggest games in the club’s recent history and he was anonymous in all of them. The key therefore with Beckford is that over the course of a season he is invaluable but has proven unreliable in games of the most crucial significance. The answer with Beckford lies somewhere between the two competing arguments; his importance cannot be understated but he is part of a team which is lacking in a suitable substitute for Beckford when it comes to the most crucial games. Colin As I eluded to before I don’t think that Beckford is unreliable in the crucial games, I think it is a case of hime being marked out of the game. In League games, most teams concentrate on scoring goals and hope to not concede. In the crucual (playoff) games, the opposition (Millwall, Doncaster etc.) are aware of the threat of Leeds scoring, so concentrate on not conceding (by throwing more defenders onto Beckford) and hope that they score. Wizzy I agree that those crucial five games by their very nature will have resulted in a change of tactics/approach by the opponents to suit the occasion. My comments on his reliability were equally a critique of, at the time of those games, the lack of strength in depth at the club in the failure to provide satisfactory alternatives when Beckford was, as you say, marked out of the game. The emergence this year of, among others, Bradley Johnson as a regular goalscorer, indicates that Grayson has identified and attempted to address this issue, thus far successfully. I think the lingering doubt for me is that if Beckford is the best striker at the club and among the top strikers in the division (which I believe him to be) it doesn’t sit well with the regularity and apparent ease with which he seems to be taken out of such massive pressure games simply by some additional marking. That said I repeat my earlier comment that over the course of a season he is invaluable; I would not swap or sell him for anything at this point. So long as his goals keep us where we are my concerns will be academic! Clive Sanderson I really hope Beckford does not read this article. I’m sure he’d get very disillusioned with Leeds if he read the majority of comments here. It seems scoring lots of goals for Leeds is not good enough. He should be tracking back and playing out of position as well as being an attacker. I think Beckford is a massive asset for Leeds. If he gets driven away from Leeds by the stupidity of some of the fans here we’ll soon all regret it. He’s proved to be far more beneficial than Fabian Delph for Leeds if you look at how we’ve done since Fabian left. Don’t get me wrong, I wish Delph was still here, but unlike Beckford he was never a necessity. jo his record and value to the team points wise can’t be denied, what troubles me is that he is running down his contract and on every televised match time after time the camera cuts to his petulant smacked bottom face, i don’t particularly want his sulking face to be the face of leeds united Steve Guys, I have only ever gone to one leeds game in my life. I am from Ireland but have been supporting leeds since 8 years of age. The game i saw them play was against Swindon last year, a typical league one game where i felt we were better but they stood firm. The scorer that day was Jermaine Beckford coming up to the 90th minute with may I add a towering header. I barely saw him for 89 minutes, nothing he touched that day came off but he got us the three points that he so often has in the last few years. He is prolific, he is a centre forward whos job ultimately is to score goals. We are top of the league, are doing brilliantly in all cup competitions due to having a great team and very solid manager but Beckford is the class apart in this division. Any fool who has any idea about football can see that, how many other strikers are there that stand out – Neil old man Harris / Rickie Lambert / Deon Burton…..I’m already failing to think of anymore. Beckford is far more clinical then all of them, he has more pace and creates a goal from nothing as so many of his chips have demonstrated. I can understand Leeds fans saying he is not the best of workers but at the end of the day he gets goals that so many others could not create for themselves at that level / Becchio is a fantastic player but if we were to honestly go up, who would teams worry about more him or Beckford – his class apart has been shown against bristol rovers / yeovil lately where two brilliant finishes were typical of him. Beckford to hopefully stay and get us up……dont forget this was a man we bought for 70,000 has there been a better bargain in our club over the last five years since our decline. I doubt it very much…. Chris Good grief, I’ve had this arguement many times but just cannot get my head around the ridiculous suggestion that we should drop the most prolific striker in the league. Whilst we’re at it why not sack grayson and bring in the kids to replace any players that have a bad game! Beckford is class at this level and will do OK in the CCC so he really should be the first name on your team sheet. tim The meaningfull goals are the ones that actually win matches and I think Jermaine has done well for us in that respect. Remember Luciano has been out for a bit and Tres hasn’t had a good run. Both play well with Jermaine – more so to me than Vokes, but that could maybe improve. Give him the right service just like any other striker and he will score goals – lots of them. We need him to stay. Frankly I do not see any better in this league or the Championship and I would not swop him for many a premier striker either.