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.

  • Tyler

    I agree with this post in a most resounding way. For me it was more important to Keep players like Snoddy, Howson, Bechhio, Schmeichel et al at the club with silly season in swing rather than panic buy!

    MOT

  • Arthur graham Currie curler

    I agree – and i believe that the reduction in wages from shifting that lot was the main aim this week … and collins fee ?

    I hope larry plan is that this will now allow us to pay for a finally fit Johnson to come in from man city and possibly one other – when loan market opens – pleased we have kept BJ – hes on the up in his new role and Nunez and Somma are going to shine this year – the team is visably improving and I dont see other teams with our spirit and goals – nothing to worry us – top 4 is very real – top two very possible if Forest and Norwich dip in form MOT

  • Tim Campbell

    I suppose having nunez and kilkenny back will add to our midfield choice, I must admit I was surprised when collins left (not that I held him in high regard); we are still woefully short of GOOD options at centre half, its such an important position that we should have 4 decent guys that cud step in when called on. We are really praying that O’Brien stays fit – because we are in deep s**t if he does’nt

    • jibb

      im sure we’ll get a CB in the lone market & kisnorbo should be coming back into the squad so hopefully we should have enough depth in defence, i wonder if naylor is ever gonna play 4 the first team again

      • badras

        naylor will probably get another chance to play as grayson is good friends wi naylor and naylor as had it difficult playing on a messed up knee since last season

  • sveifors

    2-0-9, he he, you got it spot on. As for entertainment, sure it is fun (or not), but when promotion or play off slips, then it is more fun to watch a monkey in a cage than to loose games, but have played fun games.

    The only negative about Collins leaving is that RNaylor are closer to play

  • henry vincent lewis

    Excellent post TSS!
    The problem was:-
    a. The Manager and Chairman said we could expect one or players in. Perhaps they should not have raised our expectations?
    b. We are in a great position, but so are many other teams around us. There us no cushion of points and we could quickly be out of the top six.
    Our defense still leaks pathetic goals, and we have no one big enough to handle tall attackers.
    Indeed our best defender at set pieces is Luciano!
    The clear-out is long overdue, so no problems there, and 9 out, if you include Robinson, plus a few reserves like Darville, and there must be plenty of parking space at Thorpe Arch.
    Simon has my 100% backing, so onward and upward!!

    • Craig

      @TSS

      Another class article. TSS: The voice of reason.

      @henryv

      Reading Simon’s interview on LU website I believe he genuinely thought there may be a couple more coming in too. All we need is a little spice to add to the mix that is LUFC and, with Larry still talking about the loan window, I think there are still some irons in the fire.

  • badras

    well i agree with all and i beleive that micheal johnson is coming in emergency loan from man city and i am thinking that keith southern will also be joining from blackpool .

  • badras

    most teams in this division have 1 or 2 good players but leeds have the full attacking players and then more on the bench . playoffs is going to be a very hard time to get through especially if leicester and cardiff end up in there . we need to get back to winning ways starting at hull tonight . hull 0 – 3 leeds

  • les irwin

    dont also forget faye left .we kept our players and we didn’t get smith .we have zero pace and no one in midfield who has any real quality sorry jonny howson .the loan market is where we are going AGAIN and to be fair thats why larry is in a job he loves it ,for me we lack no real ambition and what comes along is more luck than management ,should have kept collins and got rid of naylor

    • Craig

      @number1inyorkshire

      “Zero pace”? Are you serious?

    • Craig

      @number1inyorkshire

      You can only sell players other clubs want.

    • Craig

      @number1inyorkshire

      No midfield quality? Snodgrass, Watt, Gradel, Howson, Sam (when fit), Nunez…

      • les irwin

        selling players was never mentioned 1stly ,everyone mentions we need a quality midfielder ???? or is is me that just reads that on other peoples posts we have no quality in midfield we have good players but no real quality .when i mentioned pace i was referring to the strikers gradel has pace but alright he is on form at mo but for how long snoddgrass has no pace ,becchio ,paynter mccormack have no pace ,3 of our six strikers have not scored if we call gradel a striker him .becchio and somma have hit the net

        • Craig

          Snodgrass may not be quick but, on a good day, the ball sticks to his toes like glue. With skills like that you don’t need speed to turn a defence inside out.

    • TSS

      @number1inyorkshire

      Think you’re watching a different team mate. Neither Howson or Killa are particularly slow and with Sanchez Watt and Max Gradel have pace to burn. Even Johnson is pretty quick once he gets going.

      • les irwin

        ah then so we dont miss the pace of mr beckford i hope im not watching a different team cos if i have ive put some hours in somewhere else this season gradel is quick i agree but he is an exception sadly killa isnt quick howson is ok at speed but no more than any other but i did say i was talking strikers and in that department we have no speed sadly messrs becchio ,paynter,mccormack ,grella have zero speed

  • Mike

    Thank goodness for that No.1
    the above article suggests TSS has become a paid lackey of the club with the outrageous defence of the no spend policy. Back to the IGWT mantra.
    Let’s wait and see, starting tonight.return of Naylor? I could weep at the thought.

    • TSS

      @mikelufc

      OK, you’ve got me, I’ll bite.

      Even though I fear I’m repeating what I said above (because I am), there was absolutely no point whatsoever bringing in a load of players we didn’t need and who will only get shipped out in the next window.

      Look at our success in January over recent years. I’m struggling to recall the last player who had any real impact. The loan market removes the financial gamble, and gives us the option to try before we buy – a policy that has worked extremely well in getting us into a play-off place.

      Spending for spending’s sake is why we’re not in the Premier League right now. You can either learn from that and take a new, more financially cautious approach, or continue to throw good money at distinctly average players who we’ll never sell for anywhere near the costs we paid.

      All you get in January is dross that other teams didn’t want. If you wait a couple of weeks and let everyone regroup and see where they’re at, that’s when you’ll get the quality players from the Prem who may actually make a difference and may be available for transfer in May – and if they’re not, what have we lost?

      Time to respect and appreciate the excellent squad we currently have. I said play-offs in August, and we’re well on course. Have faith.

      • Craig

        @TSS

        Once again – spot on. Playing the loan market now, if Grayson deems to necessary, will also give us more funds for the better calibre of player who’ll join us in the summer if we achieve promotion. Its called win:win.

        I think Mikelufc has a collection of 5 posts and some kind of random selection system that submits and resubmits them onto the site at predetermined intervals.

  • Colin

    I think that Grayson made an error – I think he sold Collins under the premise that he would get in a permanent replacement. And I think that was one of the deals that Grayson referred to that was close but didn’t happen for ‘different reasons.’

    Unless SG has had a major falling out with Collins or the Sheff Utd deal was out of this league, then there’s no sensible reason for letting Collins unless you had a replacement in mind.

    • Colin

      End should have read ‘for letting Collins go unless you had a replacement in mind.’

  • Loved them diamond floodlights

    I bet my bottom dollar we tried to get new recruits yesterday but you can’t for numerous reasons always get what you want ask just ask spurs lol, it’s like buying a house with the chain effect many clubs can be involved in one deal if one player elsewhere gets a knock or wants longer to talk the wife round a move etc it can stop the whole process why do think Torres had to wait for permission to go for his medical Liverpool were just ensuring Carroll was sober and no woman beating charges pending before they took the plunge,two more classless clubs doing business I can’t imagine probably did the deal in wetherspoons

    I confess I hate the premiership with it’s money and plastic fans corporate shite makes me shudder thinking of when we were trying to keep up with the jonesys
    Indeed be the jonesys look where it got us ,I love this league it seems like real football real fans I love our ground it’s a real ground ok a few improvements here and there but I bet many fans envy our place after having there new glass and metal libraries installed totally souless and without character most of em just my opinion , a few games I mis from the prem goes without saying but that’s it, when I saw those transfers go through yesterday all that money it made me feel glad to be out of it

    Sorry but give me Simon Grayson and his freebies
    And our ground anyday

    • henry vincent lewis

      I agree that yesterdays transfers were obscene, in times when so many people are struggling to pay their bills.
      You see these numb-nuts arriving at their ‘new’ clubs and their ‘new’ fans are chanting their name like robotic idiots. The players do not care a jot for them.
      Meanwhile the ‘old’ fans are burning their shirts!!
      Twas ever thus.
      I like where we are just now as a club.
      If we ‘tried to get recruits yesterday’ we left it a bit late!!
      I wonder if Killa will play to-night?

  • Gryff

    There is a case to be made for a holding midfielder, though. That so many of the Leeds faithful have been crossing their fingers for one isn’t a sign of social networking leading us to parrotting eachother’s thoughts, but of a genuine need. Even amongst those who agree on the need for a holding midfielder, the perceived need for others (like a new back four, or striker, etc.) is very different from person to person.

    For one thing, we are actually playing a holding midfielder already. We tried Howson there, before he started successfuly playing further up the field; we tried Kilkenny there, and laughed at the sight of an Aussie midget waving his arms in exactly the wrong directions and allowing midfielders to waltz through him; we tried BJ there and it’s kind of worked. Even when we have played very attacking football we’ve had at least one holding midfielder in our 4-1-1-3-1 (or the latest variant!)

    But the problem is that if BJ is injured or needed elsewhere, we have to take directly from our attacking stock to bolster this position because even our first-choice is playing out of position. It’s okay with a fringe-player like BJ, but when we need two lads holding back we invariably have Jonny Howson wasting his abilities back there, and if we needed two without BJ I suspect we’d have to rush our youngster into first team action or use Kilkenny who hasn’t a clue how to tackle or position himself properly back there.

    Our central midfield, I would now class as:
    Neil Kilkenny: CCC standard attacking midfielder with no defending skills.
    Jonny Howson: Very talented attacking midfielder with some defending skills & can play well on the wing.
    Bradley Johnson: Enthusiastic if dim. Athletic winger with some defensive abilities, able to almost convince when coming in centrally, and with delusions of a Midas Boot.
    Adam Clayton: Youngster who is purportedly a defence-minded midfielder, but we’ve not seen much of him.
    Ramon Nunez: Largely failed to impress in the tin-pot central American cup thing, until he played as a striker at which point he became the ‘most valuable player’.

    So there you have it. That’s a largely subjective list, but to my mind we have three, THREE, natural central midfielders, with one of these being a youngster. Maybe we could get away with this if we were playing 4-4-2 every match or even 4-2-2-2, but we’ve left ourselves too thin on the ground. The centre of the park is where possession is won and lost, and if you lose the mid-field battle, you’ve almost already lost the match. We’re well suited to @TSS’s 2-0-9. But as TSS has already said: our players are better than we give them credit. We don’t have a bad team, our defence is very good if we stay clear of injury, and our wingers are probably the best in the league, but we haven’t sorted the responsible element to our central midfield since the likes of Douglas & Prutton left.

  • Gryff

    ^Sorry about the length of the above. I do like a rant in the morning!

  • Dje

    @gryff

    I entirely agree. Sadly our official stance is unclear on the matter, and we have to defer now to the loan market when it opens. If we make a move for a holding midfielder then you’d say that Grayson was astute not to buy one. If he fails to land an established loanee for this position – and we end up with some old tat of a Premiership player, or yet another youngster abut to learn his trade, then clearly Grayson was wrong not to make a move in January. However, for all Grayson’s talk today about not getting players for the sake of it, and that we made moves for players but they didn’t come off, I certainly hope that he doesn’t think the loan market is going to be a piece of cake to manouevre in. The loanees he will be after are the same ones that QPR, Cardiff, Leicester, Notts Forest, Norwich, Swansea, Reading, Watford… will be after. And many of those clubs are better suited geographically than we are (ie. they are down south or in the Midlands), and better suited financially (QPR, Cardiff, Leicester especially) to offer more of these players wages than we can.

    And let’s face it, Grayson has been erratic at best in the loan market.

  • les irwin

    lets be right we shouldnt have to buy players in the january sales they should have been in place in august we bought noone and when you look at the situation the one he did spend money on has just left so has bessone lets be right grayson loves the loan market so whats the difference now in waiting four or five days you can only get em for 3 months so what if we get to the playoffs. you can say what you like it was the loan market that got us out of prem in 1st place loan players are not good enough to get in their own teams and by the way if your good enough your old enough (watt) there are plenty of youngsters playing in the arsenal squad ,gryason on trasnsfers is poor and he said there were 1 or 2 very nearly came in so why didn’t they ??? i suggest our wage structure come june we are more likely to loose players than keep em ,johnson ,killa ,higgs becchio schmeicel snodders are all on radars and maybe howson

  • les irwin

    really good atricle on news now on the fanhouse site