So the inevitable is happening. Norwich have bid for Snoddy, it’s come out in public, and Leeds have set to battle stations to limit the PR catastrophe of losing the club’s 2nd (technically 3rd) captain this year. Neil Warnock was wheeled out to massage fans’ egos while insisting:
…players get their heads turned and it’s difficult.
They rejected the bid of £1.5m. Snodgrass, almost guaranteed to make it in the Premier League given examples of Fab Delph, Jonny Howson and Bradley Johnson, was the subject of a £3m bid last season, apparently. As everybody expected, Norwich have returned with a better offer, thought to be around £2m. £2m for a Leeds captain? Well why much more? It was £750,000 in January – to Bates’ amusement.
Peter Lorimer has written how desperate Leeds are to hold on to Snoddy. They might well be now, but the club is paying for its past mistakes. I wonder how Peter would have reacted had Revie’s boys been put to the sword in favour of corporate facilities? Jack Charlton’s demands too large for a downsized budget, he’s allowed to leave in favour of an injury-prone journeyman; Silky skillful winger Eddie Gray has no hope of being offered a competitive salary and is sold to a foreign club, replaced by an average mid-table winger; Billy Bremner protests in private, gets injured, and is shipped out before the club lose him for nothing, his replacement a player who reportedly refused to play for the 6 months previous because the club couldn’t afford the bonus clause in his contract; would Lorimer’s blood pressure rise when he read the chairman’s triumphal gloating? Would he have wondered about staying?
I wonder if Peter Lorimer would have decided, as the club seems to insist Snodgrass has, to leave Leeds? Sure, we’re on the verge of a takeover: apparently we might come up with £2-4m to inject into the squad, which might just about undo Bates’ loans and apparent legal fees. Robert Snodgrass isn’t as good as Peter Lorimer was – few are – but Don Revie’s players weren’t classed as champions overnight. Lorimer of all people should know how important the players are.
In an interview article entitled “The Original Hotshot“, Lorimer had this to say of his playing experiences:
It was hard because we’d often be away from home for five days at a time but we thoroughly enjoyed being together because we were like a family and that’s how Don wanted it.
The major thing from the Revie era is how friendly all the players still are and we have a great respect for each other and enjoy each other’s company.
We play golf together whenever we can and when you think it’s 40 years ago now it just shows how special our relationship is.
Would Revie’s Leeds have been so successful if it had faced the same hurdles as Bates has thrown at the team? I think, from what Lorimer tells us, Revie’s Leeds would have stalled and failed. Who knows, maybe he would’ve gone to Huddersfield!
We only have ourselves to blame if Snodgrass leaves. That is Ken Bates, but it is also all the board members, who must have been aware of the budgets over the last few years. Ken Bates insisted he always backed Simon Grayson; only by piecing together his weekly “interviews” fans worked out that Grayson had seen Bradley Johnson and Neil Kilkenny leave and had been initially given £2m less (about 17% less!) to spend to replace them. No wonder he sold Kasper Schmeichel for a quick buck!
As a member of the Leeds board, surely Lorimer saw these numbers? Surely he also realised Bates was misleading fans? (If he saw the numbers, he must have) So wasn’t he even slightly tempted to tell these fans – many of whom probably listed him as their childhood hero – what was really happening at the club?
Robert Snodgrass is not a greedy player asking for too much money. Adam Clayton had this levelled at him. He was unlucky not to seem to be rated by Warnock, but his rumoured wage demands didn’t sound too bad. Ross McCormack is being lambasted for wanting away by fans because he hasn’t agreed a new contract – yet those same rumours don’t suggest our top scorer is asking for anything unreasonable. Aidan White is greedy, using the club’s training facilities before jumping ship to Derby. Johnson was greedy, Kilkenny was greedy, Howson was greedy and should’ve signed a new contract. This argument is a running joke – and the joke is that fans swallow this year after year.
If Snodgrass was so desperate for Premier League football, why would he want to join Norwich City, who experts all seem to think will come down in the next couple of years, over a Leeds whose non-TV income outstrips plenty of Premier League teams? A Leeds whose fans outnumbered in League One what some teams can physically house in the Premier League? He wouldn’t.
This is a player who has a contract spanning the time Neil Warnock has been tied to the club, who does not want to extend his contract when the club is so uncertain. As Snodgrass himself said:
He has already said he won’t be sticking around much longer. Who knows whether he has one or two more years left at Leeds?
It’s alright for him to say he could get me a move, but if he leaves the people above him in the football club are not going to worry about what he said.
Snodgrass identified the problem with him committing months ago:
The Chairman is trying to put a bit of pressure on me and hes telling me what plans he has for the club.
But they told me the same sort of plans the season before, and it didn’t work out so it’s hard to buy into these things again.
When a fan asked him about Howson leaving:
We’re missing Howson. Weird that we never replaced him. How can you say you’re aiming for promotion and then sell your captain?
The problem does not look to be a player having his head turned, it does not seem to be anything other than a club that has shown time and again it does not match the ambition of its captain and its fans. Neil Warnock will have a real decision to make. As he said, that’s life and he’s got to do the best he can.
But let’s not spin this as anything other than the result of the consistent and abysmal failure of the club over the past couple of years to build a team capable of promotion. I remember Christmas 2010 when we were on goal difference with 2nd place after defeating Warnock’s future champions QPR. Nobody realistically expected promotion that season, but to get promotion next season the team had to be built on. That team has been dismantled. Half of it hasn’t been done by conscious decisions, but it’s the knock on of the decisions made by our board. The decision that this football club doesn’t need to spend much money of football. If Robert Snodgrass leaves, fans will not be happy, and the club can blame nobody but themselves.