The Ramon Nunez Predicament TSS August 24, 2011 Leeds United 68 Comments Simon Grayson has admitted he has a selection headache after Ramon Nunez scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season against Doncaster Rovers in the League Cup last night. The Honduran international was left out of the starting line-up for the trip to West Ham United last Sunday with the Leeds United manager admitting it was a tough call. But with Adam Clayton and Jonny Howson looking solid in central midfield, Robert Snodgrass back to his old self on the wing and Max Gradel as uncontainable as ever on the opposite side, who does Simon Grayson drop to accommodate Nunez? The fact is, our midfield was the biggest threat throughout all of last season and looks even better this time round. The temptation is to alter the formation, but 4-4-2 has looked a lot stronger than 4-5-1 ever did. McCormack benefits from the added support, we’ve lost none of our midfield threat and we also look more organised at the back. 4-4-2 has to stay. The only other option is playing Nunez as a striker. But dropping Ross McCormack who has scored three in the last four would be hard to justify, whilst Andy Keogh has been an absolute revelation since arriving from Wolves. Sorry, there are no polls available at the moment. Matt Decision will be made for us if we get a decent bid for Gradel. I'd take £5m+. I say that, but that's based on the assumption the £5m will be made available to Grayson to sign new players or improve contracts of others. In reality it will go towards paying the interest on Project Beeston or buying tiny kettles. Carl Pearson Yeah he really needs to not buy those tiny White kettles one cup and there gone and take forever to boil alienbumnote snoody has been poor so far this season apart his goal against hull i'd drop him! mattbb1 For me we have to drop Gradel, he only seems to srping to life in the second half, and I think Nunez showing him how its done would give him that extra drive and competitiveness he is missing. The other thing Nunez has in abundance is his team ethic, which Gradel could learn from. Nunez seems to be the goal a game merchant we have been missing since Beckford went, I nearly voted for dropping McCormack based on this, but i think Nunez is a good contributor to midfield. Chareose Huh ???!! Gradel was our player of the year last season, partly because of his work ethic ?? Do you actually go to Leeds games ? mattbb1 yes and i've seen gradel act selfishly with the ball, and of course get booked.. and sent off. Nunez is much more of a team player, probably not as much as a fans favourite as gradel, but i think this is one area gradel needas to develop in. All these stupid quotes emanating from him to the press are a sign of immaturity, compare that to Nunez, who just gets on with it. TSS More of a team player? Are you serious? He's like Bradley Johnson only more accurate, prone to 30 yard strikes with numerous options ahead. mattbb1 hes still more likely to place a pass to someone else in a better shooting position than Max TSS, he's also passed up playing for Honduras to win his place in the team. whilst Max seems to paly in any friendly that comes up for the Ivory Coast. I dont have a downer on Gradel, and perhaps heis being set up as a `rebel' by the press but I get the feeling that playing for Leeds United means the world to Nunez, but not so much any more for Gradel. and BTW a bradley johnson who scores every time he shoots – that wouldnt have been a bad thing. He_mase Dropping Gradel could have two possible outcomes- 1 he does not become complacent and tries even harder( if poss). It also shows the other players that noone is safe and the whole squad fight for their spots. 2- It upsets the apple cart and pushes Gradel away from the club at a time when there may be offers coming in and when he is in the last year of his contract. COL Opinions are like arseholes………………We've all got one! Everytime a person disagrees with another person we hear the boring line " do you actully go to the games?" RickHx It may be a boring line, buy sometimes you have to wonder when people spout such crap @superjhoops The real predicament is getting Nunez himself to sign a new deal – I think it runs out at the end of this year?? Craig Woodhead Stop going on about selling Gradel. We’ve a better chance of going up with him than without him. As for nunez, yes hes done well but why change a starting 11 that’s done well. Impact player if things arent going too well and good competition for places. @Zomoniac Interesting poll results. Given that Gradel has consistently been better than Snoddy for a year now I'm surprised to see it panning out the way it has. I'm aware he's "undroppable" in SG's eyes, but to me Howson has been the weakest bit of our midfield for most of this season and I'd happily see Nunez given a couple of games in the attacking midfielder role just behind the front two at his expense. Every time I've seen Nunez this season (and it was very much the case last night), he's looked much better central than on the wing. He was awful for the first half last night, one inspired moment of magic aside, and it wasn't until he swapped around with McCormack and later Keogh that he started to look a real threat. dalesteel totally agree with you. Howson goes missing too often. Nunez would be a good swap and play the role that howson does, but score goals!!! Matthew Grayson will never drop Howson though. _dje I'd start with Nunez in place of Gradel at home and Gradel starts in his place away. Nunez seems to be excelling at 15-20 yard pot shots, the type that'll get us a goal in games when the opposition have come to shut up shop at Elland Road. Likewise, when away and we are a bit more defensive minded, Gradel's running will give us a better chance of a goal on the break than Nunez offers. Besides, I think Gradel has more to offer us from coming off the bench than Nunez does. What you really don't want as a tiring defender with 20 minutes of a match left is Gradel coming on to run at you with the ball. Nice dilemma to have aye?! Chareose dje nunez is not a winger, hes a central midfeilder / attacker…….. like the guy above you stated, he should be replacing Howson not Gradel…… Oh but we cant drop Howson can we, hes the "golden boy" ?? lol _dje Fair point about Nunez not being a winger, but then neither is Gradel in the traditional sense of a winger hogging the touchline and snapping in a cross (I can't remember a cross that Gradel has put in with his left foot from which we've scored?!). Both are only effective on the left hand side in a 4-3-3 with Becchio as the kingpin in the middle; but that's another headache to consider when Becchio is fit once more. I'd drop Howson (although I prefer the term 'rotate') but I'd need convincing that Nunez is any better at his defensive central midfield duties than Howson is, and any less prone to 'disappearing' in that role. At which point I think we'd be looking at dropping McCormack and playing Nunez alongside and just a tad deeper and behind Keogh. Chareose Agreed Dje, best two options are, try Nunez as a striker or keep testing him in midfeild Mark__R I tend to agree with Craig's view on this. Gradel runs at defenders and is a real handful for opposition defenders. These type of players are few and far between. He's proved himself at this level last season and as Premiership clubs are being linked with him, all indicates that he's highly thought of. We have a better chance of promotion with him than without. Keep Gradel and Snodgrass and we are serious contenders. Nunez has scored 5 goals in 3 games (?) which is great, but is unproven over a season at this level and is not the kind of player who runs at defenders. It's a squad game now and he'll have opportunities over the season as players get injured or fall out of form. That he is in a rich vein of form gives SG a great option – but on the bench. The team that faced West Ham currently hold the 1st team places in the Championship and creditibly so, after their great performance last weekend. It's all good. MOT dalesteel I agree the v westham squad looked good, but did you notice howson much? Because I didn't and he goes missing quite alot. I'd drop howson and give Nunez a shot, playing off the front 2. It would suit him perfectly, but grayson wont have the balls to drop Howson. However I think most Leeds fan would welcome it for a change??? Mark__R Fair point about Howson, Dale, but I think as Brown was absent , Howson was instructed to play a more cautious containment role alongside Clayton. Right at the death when we were pushing forward for an equaliser he made an impact with the shot that came off the bar for AC to score. He's more prominent when playing just behind the strikers. I like Nunez but he's not in the mould of an English Midfielder- ie. physically or stamina wise I don't think he'll match up to Howson, Clayton etc. He could play as you say off the front two, but I wouldn't think he'd have an impact back in the midfield. As he plays more he'll get stronger and probabley in future will be challenging Howson in for the same spot. As of now though – I wouldn't change the team that faced WH. MOT dalesteel There is no doubt that on form howson is a great player but for me inconsistent. I agree about Nunez not having much of an impact in midfield as regards to defence and possibly stamina, that said Howson goes missing that often would it matter? You mentioned howson's shot that hit the bar, but for me that is the only notable part I can remember him playing??? Ron Galea I got 3 thumbs down for saying the very same thing. I have nothing against Howson and in fact think he is a solid Championship player. However, Nunez has played against far superior opposition on national duty and for mine could go all the way. It's no mystery he is scoring goals for fun. I do agree however it would be unfair to change the 11 at this stage, but let's hope sentimentality gets pushed aside if Nunez keeps banging them in. dalesteel TRUE!!! Jonesy For me it would have to be howson – nunez isn't an out and out winger like Max & Snoddy and they both did very well vs. West Ham. Nunez has little bit of spark and magic that Howson doesn't and for me Howson often seems to go missing. Very tough one to call for SG. Carl Pearson Injuries , suspensions, loss of form , will all come into the equation this year and every year it's no different every single one of them is needed , kids whilst full of running do run out of puff eventually ! Champions92 No reason to change the team. Nunez can be highly effective coming on, Cantona-style. Injuries and suspensions will leave a gap and when it comes he must take it He_mase Spot on comment. _dje Stats aren't with you on Nunez being a 'highly effective' substitute. In the three games he has started with Leeds this season he has scored in all of them, and coincidentally we won them all. Of the games he has come on as a sub, he failed to score and we lost all bar West Ham were we got a point. Somma was a super-sub but has yet to prove he can do it from the off; Gradel started as a super sub when he first arrived and has proved that he can play excellently from the kickoff and only rarely have a nothing match; why not use Nunez's talent from the off until he fails to flatter? Nigel Rotate Nunez with McCormack. Its a long long season @GilFisher boom! 4-4-2 max, johnny, clayton, snoddy across the middle….Keogh/Becchio with Nunez/McCormack up front. Gryff723 It has to be McCormack. Howson would be my next choice but Howson tracks back better than Nunez would, and clearly is building a good relationship with Clayton. Two young English lads who are only going to improve – it's a good relationship. Snoddy's doing well again, and Gradel's not on his top form right now (in my view) but he still skins defenders every couple of minutes! So that leaves forwards. Keogh has been instrumental in the buildup to almost every goal since he arrived. He drags defenders away from play, gets into the perfect place to clean up lost balls, and has a sweet touch on him – definitely one we should look at signing permanently. That leaves McCormack who's a good striker on his day but while he's been scoring recently he's missed chance after chance too. Oranjes Nunez should be a fixture – he's a diamond. He would not be happy coming on Cantona-style. Look what happened when a team was built around Cantona – at Old Trafford! Despite the fact that he had his best game for ages against Hull, I would leave Snodgrass out and play Howson wide-right. That would strengthen the defence without diminishing the attack. Remember when Snodgrass failed to pick up his full-back against Barnsley (home) and Swansea (away) – two goals conceded – costing at least two and possibly three points. Gradel is another diamond. His late-season performances were influential in getting us out of League One and he wasoutstanding last year in the Championship. So, that's Howson, Nunez, Clayton and Gradel plus either Brown or McCormack depending on circumstances. Say, start with Brown to keep it tight and bring McCormack on later (this is essentially what Dalglish did last Saturday at Arsenal – kept it tight for 60 minutes then brought Suarez on to win the game.) Keogh would lead the line until Becchio returns. Discuss. dalesteel you cant drop snodgrass he creates too many goals, Thats a non-sence. Simon Drop Snodgrass and play Howson on the right instead of Nunez??? Nunez isn't (yet at least) the kind of player you build a team around, Snodgrass, Gradel, Howson and Becchio are. I see Nunez playing the same role Gradel did in League 1. Peter T Think he would replace Ross M if he was to start Not strong enough in tackle to replace Howson in Central midfield Not got the running power to repace Maxi Timothy Wilson Play 4 5 2 TSS I was actually thinking about 3-5-2 earlier, but then slapped myself round the face when I considered how bad the defence already are at times. Matthew Lol, if we played 3 – 5 – 2 we'd end up like Ipswich against Posh.. TSS Nah, more 7-7 than 7-1 I suspect. henry_v Before the season started I had Ramon as our 15 goal midfielder. Maybe he will be 20+ He is an excellent striker of a ball with either foot but he is not greedy and will pass to someone in a better position (Max please note!) He is a good sharp passer and has confidence to burn. He is the hero we have been waiting for. I can't wait to see him playing off Lucciano!! If he keeps scoring he will start. Somma was super-sub because he did not play as well when he started a game. Two good signings in defence and we have a chance. We need both Jonny and Adam in midfield. Ramon is not a tackler! Simon Both feet??? You mean you've seen him use his left foot!!!!! henry_v Yes, but he prefers his right!!B) oldschoolbaby 442 has to stay. Everyone understands it. It often strikes me that you need players of particular quality and intelligence to successfully implement a more complex system I like Nunez, He plays with a smile on hs face, works hard and knows where the goal is. The downside is that when the scouting reports start to circulate defenders will know to show him to the left as he favours his right foot so much and give him less time to get shots away from the edge of the box. I suspect Gradel will walk at the end of the season, maybe to Lille or foreign team offering Champions League football, if £5,000,000 is offered he should be allowed to go. Half that figure should be ignored as he would be instrumental to a promotion push ( don`t want to re-inite the Bates v Ridsdale debate but I find it refreshing that Leeds can turn down 7 figure bids ) As it stands leave the midfield alone. Injuries, and hopefully Cup progression, will give Nunez the chances he very much desrves Grumpy Did you ever see Peter Lorimer or Norman Hunter play? There wouldn't be any player more 'one footed' than they were and they didn't do bad did they (except for that screamer of a goal Norman scored with his right foot when playing for England). ; – ) Matthew We all know Grayson won't drop Howson his Capt and Favourite, so the only logical way he can get a game is to play either as a 2nd Striker, or on the Wing if he goes 4 – 5 – 1 again, it may not be his prefered position but the chances of Clayton and Howson being dropped are next to none, if Gradel and Snoddy stay they're on the wing. Thats 4 midfield positions covered. Ron Galea The armband saves Howson to be honest. I just hope Grayson can be ruthless and identify the days when Howson is somewhat ineffective and give Nunez some decent match time. Compared to the problems we usually discuss on here, this is actually a joy. We certainly have a potent midfield with depth. Your next post TSS should be 'The Defensive Predicament' so perhaps someone at the club looks for reinforcements. NE corner why do leeds fans have such a downer on howson? He plays in the most crucial area of the pitch & is no doubt still learning his trade but give the guy a break. How many times does he track back to make crucial tackles, start attacks by breaking at pace or knocking 50 yard passes to our strikers feet. Anyone remember the ball upto Beckford at old trafford, the goal against bristol city to drag us back into the game or the hat trick at burnley? It's not so long ago we had slow ageing carthorses in midfield (Sean Gregan, Jermain Wright, Kevin Nicholls) & now we have 2 fantastic young players in Clayton & Howson who are genuinely box to box midfield players. Nunez is unlucky not to be in the team based on his goals alone but surely it has to be one of our wide men or strikers that make way & not our midfield engine room. number1inyorkshire bates will sell gradel on deadline day so grayson can't use the money maybe snodders too . he will think he has Sam and Nunez as replacements should that happen . we need to be offering nunez a new deal already before he walks away again for free what if we sign forsell then what _dje Cheer up mate, can't be all that bad!! Gradel might go, if the money is right, and we can't get him down to a new contract, but I can't see Snodgrass leaving until the Winter transfer period at the earliest (when our best players will once more come under transfer scrutiny). Besides, Grayson aint that much of a walkover for Bates. Sam and Nunez on the flanks aren't and easy replacement for Gradel and Snodgrass, and neither would have competition for their places. sim he has to play instead of macormack or not at all – his best position is in the hole behind the CF… I would say stick with Macormack unitl the next time he draws a blank and then swap hin for Nunez and give him a run of 4 games and see how he goes Mdomo The Lad definitely deserves to start, of that there is no doubt, however sometimes in football you don't get what you deserve. In what is surely an extreme case of irony it is his versatility, a quality that will no doubt be very vital for us throughout the season, that will likely result in him starting on the sidelines on Saturday. If he was an out and out striker then you'd find it hard not to play him (being the top scorer) likewise if he was a sure-set winger he would be causing Max and Snoddy to step up their games, however its hard to see him ever getting a starting place at CM if Clayton (player of the month) and Howson (skipper) are available. The fact that he is able to play in any of these positions probably means that Larry will consider it best to have our Little Honduran revelation on the bench ready to replace anyone of the six, should they be having a poor game, get injuried or just to give the team some fresh legs. On balance its probably the smartest thing to do, however that doesn't take away from the fact that Ramon can feel a little unlucky not to be starting. That said this can only be considered a good thing. The lad is a pro and I'm sure Larry will let him know he is doing well and is a massive asset for the club. After all, im sure there will be niggles, suspensions, or god forbid the exit door through the season and the lad will defo get a lot of playing time! JOHNBOMB78 Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton, Gradel, McCormack up front as lone striker/target man with Nunez dropping in between as a link up player, Keogh can sit on the bench shit twat! silkyswift OK … Gradel …best out wide and grafter Nunuz …attacking central midfielder ideal at the point of a 5(diamond) still very green but will eventually become a regular Grayson would have played his first 11 last night as per previous years in the cup .. convinced he was showing Bates how frail we may be without a few more bodies coming in MOT Colin I think the notion of playing his best eleven each game has changed in SG's mind and is now less reluctant to play fringe players to rest others .It looks like he is more confident in his playing staff now than he was in previous seasons and that helps build confidences up and doesn't knacker the players out by playing them constantly.Which SG has been very guilty of in the past.It always pays to drop the so called best players occaisionally, it keeps them on their toes and stops them from getting too complacent and thinking that they're better than the team. Chareose So far the only suggestion we havent had is playing Nunez in goal…………….. oldschoolbaby Any chance of knocking this diamond, 3-5-1 etc excitement on the head ? To explain. Michael Brown is 34. He has played in the Premiership. He has played for managers / coaches of some renown. He has played against, or watched on TV, Deschamps, Dunga, Makalele, Mascherano, Diarra and even Batty – the water carriers if you like. He knows he doesn`t have the engine he had when he was 24. He knows Leeds have defensive frailties. Everyone knows he was brought in to give them some protection. What does he do, from the kick off against Southampton ? Invade their half and kick anything dreaased as a deckchair positively inviting a booking in the first 10 minutes. That`s a senior pro ! If you don`t have players with the necessary intelligence and discipline with the humility to put the team first then there is no point, whatsoever, in deviating from a 442 442 also suits what seems to be our first choice midfield oldschoolbaby What is more there is a good chance that Lees and White could emerge as the first choice full backs. Ironically, assuming they consistently demonstrate the ncessary quality, intelligence and discipline, they both look like players who could perform well in say a 351. But for now, as they look to build confidence in what remains a less than convincing back four, Keep It Simple Stupid DANO dont start gettin mad thoughts in your head. im irish, im a leeds fan.Keogh cant keep this up, he useless.time will tell.believe me! Irving08 I confess to not having seen Nunez play 90 minutes, but from what I have seen of him, he seems neither to be a bona fide winger nor a box to box midfield player and since we need, and happen to have both, I cannot see him in these positions. So where would he play if he were playing regularly ? Just behind a striker ? The fact that he does not havean obvious position may explain whey he never seems to have nailed a place in the teams he played for before coming to us. I am glad we have got him to come off the bench, though. Irving08 Excuse typos – the bi-focals slipped. Andrew Flynn It's great we can have such a debate. We really do have an abundance of attacking talent even with Becchio and Somma out. What I would like to see is another enfourcer as back up for Clayton just in case we lost him to injury / suspension. I'd like to know who the silly 1% are that suggest dropping him…….take Adam out of the team and I think we would struggle. tom Ramon has done superbly well in terms of scoring so far this season, but i think people are getting a little carried away he's only done it against poor opposition and in a competition perhaps teams take lightly. He's ovs got a bit of class about him, but he wont be in the team for the ipswich game because the team performed so well at upton park. Howson is the heartbeat of our team and captain, i wouldnt drop him. Seamus Ramon Nunez is working well, coming on as an impact player. Helping us when the opposition is tiring. McCormack runs his socks off and Ramon can keep that pressure on. So I would suggest keeping things as they are and using Ramon as an impact player for league matches. As for the defence, hopefully Bromby will come back soon and replace Kisnorbo, who appears to be still suffering at the moment. WE all Love Leeds!! Justin Burton If Gradel dunt sign fuck him off and Nunez in simple Paul Alston I’d say put him at cm, playing an attacking role behind the front man, really looking forward to seeing a bechio n nunez combo. Don’t think gradel will stick around, so we need to b ready for that. NOT.