Leeds United January transfer window review TSS February 1, 2011 Leeds United 30 Comments No real surprises this January as a large squad was decreased and the “deadwood” cleared out with several players leaving the club permanently or joining other teams on loan. Whilst there will almost certainly be further additions when the emergency loan market opens, it should come as no surprise to anyone that Simon Grayson kept the additions to a minimum. The squad has proved extremely capable, is of a relatively young age overall and has only improved as the season progressed. The frustrations of some fans who expected a little more from the January transfer window are understandable, but claims that we desperately needed a new defensive midfielder and an entirely new back-line were a little far fetched. Whilst the defensive element of the team would certainly benefit from a little improvement, the style of play Leeds United have adapted this season has a lot more to do with the amount of goals we’ve leaked than the individuals who have come in for considerable criticism. I like to think of Leeds’ current formation not as a 4-5-1, but more of a 2-0-9 – great to watch when we’re on the front foot, but we run the risk of leaving ourselves too exposed at the back. Still, this has been a very enjoyable season so far and a massive improvement on Blackwell’s less-than-inspiring football the last time we attempted a Premier League push. The problem with the January transfer window – and one of the reasons I didn’t think we’d add too many players from day one – is that very few clubs are going to part with their star players midway through a campaign. This means that unless you can exhibit the kind of financial lunacy of Cardiff City, or are funded by a billionaire sugar daddy like QPR, then all you’re really looking at are the players who have failed at other teams – the fat kids and geeks of our proverbial playground. These fat kids and geeks are what we’ve signed on countless other occasions when fans were “desperate” for strength in certain areas. They’re the knee-jerk signings that usually end on the scrap-heap when the next transfer window opens! Even in 2001 when we were flying high at home and in Europe you couldn’t please the Leeds United faithful unless another over-paid, over-hyped and over-rated individual was about to reserve another Elland Road parking space for his Bentley. For once in our existence we have a manager that refuses to be rushed into transfer deals on the back of fan pressure and who has some understanding of the word ‘restraint’. Yet despite the harsh lessons learnt, many have quickly forgotten what reactionary transfer spending resulted in and insist we are somehow ‘lacking ambition’. The fact of the matter is, that the fans of every club up and down the country think exactly the same thing. Whether they be Manchester United, Chelsea, QPR or Cardiff fans, you’ll find very few supporters of any persuasion that are pleased with how January turned out and it’s the same every season without fail. There’s a couple of reasons for this inevitable and invariable disappointed fans around the country are left with. One is that there is so much hype around every club when the transfer window opens, that when none (or very few) of these rumours come to fruition, the fans feel let down and look for someone to blame. The other problem is that we often fail to appreciate the grass is not always greener elsewhere. I’ve spoken to supporters of every club in this division this season, and have yet to find anyone who wouldn’t want Jonny Howson, Kasper Schmeichel, Luciano Becchio and Robert Snodgrass (amongst others) in their team. It’s easy to look at the fixture list and worry about star players from other teams coming up against us, but Leeds United’s stars are feared just as much by our counterparts at other clubs. After a rough start and some remarkable dips in form, we find ourselves sixth in the Championship, scoring for fun and looking like an altogether more solid unit week-on-week. There’s not a single team in this division who has improved enough to worry me and as I said at the beginning of the season, I still think this squad is more than capable of finishing in the play-off’s. How many of you would have turned that down in August? Chin up Leeds fans. In Grayson we trust.