First Beckford, Then Gradel, Now Howson TSS October 19, 2011 Leeds United 39 Comments Oh how lovely it must be for a season to go by when one of your key players isn’t nearing the end of his contract, deadlocked in negotiations with our tight-fisted board and attracting the interest of Premier League relegation fodder. First there was Jermaine Beckford, then there was Max Gradel and now there’s Jonny Howson. It wouldn’t be quite as depressing if Leeds United didn’t already have 2012/13’s drama set in place – a la Snodgrass, Clayton, Somma and McCormack. Yes, it’s wrong to be using players with two years remaining on their contract to blast the clubs contract policies, but does anyone honestly believe these contracts will be sorted before we have to sit through another six months of perpetual news feeds serving up one link after another, whilst the player decides he is no longer capable of answering simple questions with anything but ambiguity? Regardless of how naive/pessimistic you may be, those are matters we can tear our hair out over in due course – for now, let’s concentrate our follicle extraction on Jonny Howson. The Leeds born, Leeds bred, Leeds supporting, Leeds United captain should never have become a player we were in fear of losing. Over 200 appearances for the club, Mr Leeds United is the club’s longest serving player – by quite some margin too if you consider his youth career. Yet despite the fact Jonny is a player who bleeds blue, white and yellow, talks over his new deal appear to be getting nowhere, rumours of interest from other clubs are starting to surface and the words of reassurance coming from Jonny are far from reassuring. Speaking after the 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers Friday night, Jonny said; “We’re still discussing things. From my point of view I just want to play in a team which can give performances like that, and if we keep doing that then I’m sure it (the contract) will take care of itself. “I’ll put it to the back of my mind. “They (contracts) are big decisions at any time. It’s your career and you’ve got to make the right decision. “But my aim is to get Leeds into the Premier League and if we keep producing performances like that then it won’t be a problem.” It’s almost like Jonny is issuing the club an ultimatum – “Match my ambition, or I’m off – football careers are too short.” And whilst I doubt Jonny would ever leave Elland Road, it’s not hard to sympathise with his current plight. He helped us fight defiantly through the loss of Beckford, but we brought plenty of new blood in for the start of last season which will have settled any fears the team may have had. But where does Jonny look to see a similar level of ambition this season? His concerns are similar to that of the support; the transfer window was a massively depressing couple of months where Leeds United made a net loss in terms of quality. For the time being, Leeds are in good form and Jonny, like the fans, is at relative peace. But he wants to play Premier League football while he’s still young enough to improve with the experience, and if Leeds United can’t deliver a team capable of doing that then, like the fans, Jonny may become restless.