leeds fansIn the history of its existence, I can’t remember feeling anything but dread when attention turned towards a January transfer window.

I’m sure it provides intense thrills for supporters of other clubs, a level of anticipation and excitement akin to Christmas as a 9-year-old that justifies Sky Sports’ Americanesque sensationalism of the whole sorry affair, but as a Leeds United fan, the possibility of losing key players has always been more likely than us signing new ones.

At best, we sign a new player to fill a position we’ve been desperately lacking in, then sell the players who would make our new signing useful. It’s a bit like getting an Xbox One console for Christmas but having the TV you intended to play it on stolen the night before. And then the store closes before you can buy a new TV and won’t open again for another 5 months.

But things have changed a lot at Elland Road over the last year and this time around, I’m confident that when the January transfer window closes, Leeds United will be a stronger team.

Maybe I’ve caught the blind optimism bug so many fans seem to get infected by at this time of year. When Ken Bates was at the helm, I used to find people infected by the bug intolerable because in spite of all the evidence to the contrary and past experience teaching us to expect the worst, a couple of “war chest” quotes and some half-hearted assurances from the Master himself and everyone was willing to believe that this time would be different.

It wasn’t, of course. But it wasn’t hard to understand why so many fans wanted to believe something had changed.

And maybe that’s where I’m at at now. Unable to consider the possibility that nothing has really changed and the patterns of the last eight years will continue to repeat themselves because, well… because its too damn depressing and a positive outlook is all that stands between me and a straight-jacket.

You see, the reason I can’t categorically state that this time will be different is because things are so vague and up in the air at the moment (which is always the case with new investment and not a criticism). The “new owners” we’ll have by January feels a lot like when Ken Bates put the club into administration and an anonymous company with absolutely no connection to Bates (honest) took over and decided Bates was the only man alive qualified to be our chairman – because he’d done such a good job leading us into admin, obviously – insofar as the face of this takeover (David Haigh) is already at the club working for the current owners and very few faces are likely to change.

Clearly there’s some new money behind David Haigh, but if he’s heading this consortium (as seems to be the case) and GFH will retain a share as planned, then the same people who’ve improved things considerably over the last 12 months will still be running the club. Which, in my opinion at least, is no bad thing.

We could all pick faults with the current owners, but can anyone really fault their efforts? Communication between fans and the club has improved tenfold, the mood around Elland Road is much healthier, the players seem happy, we have a great manager and everything finally feels like it’s coming together for Leeds United. It feels like we’re heading in the right direction for the first time in a decade.

And this has all been achieved without a great deal of money to throw at our problems. In fact, this has been achieved while the current owners worked to plug a black hole in our finances which Ken Bates left behind.

Come January however, we’re led to believe that the new investors will be providing McDermott funds to further bolster a squad which has already performed above expectations and, with the right additions, could become serious contenders. Not just play-off contenders either, depending on the level of funds available to McDermott and the willingness of clubs to part with the quality of players we need midway through a campaign, we may even be able to dream of an automatic spot – a suggestion I’d have laughed at in August.

I can’t begin to describe how refreshing it is to feel excited by Leeds United’s prospects again and while we’ll undoubtedly hit a few bumps in the road (because we’re still Leeds United, and that’s just how we roll), I truly believe that when we stop to repair and upgrade our battered ship in January, the flashy, over-commercialised land of Premier League football will come into view on the horizon.

  • CHRIS BARNIKEL

    We need a quality striker to support McCormack, with Blackstock out for the season who could we get in January if we’ve got money to spend ?

    • TSS

      I suspect Becchio will be the most talked about, but I fear the temptation to start hoofing balls forward follows Becchio around because he’s so good at winning stuff in the air. Also, I don’t think the McCormack and Becchio partnership was ever that good, they had their moments, but it never seemed to click for them like Beckford-Becchio did.

      If it was the summer transfer window there’s plenty of names I could see us having a shot at signing but midway through a campaign it’s far trickier, clubs are more reluctant to sell. That’s going to be a problem with every addition we try to make of course, but I always feels it’s even more so with strikers. I’m thinking that the answer will be an obscure one that no one sees coming, possibly an overseas name we’re not familiar with in England.

      • Tim Campbelll

        Shane Long, Kevin Doyle to name but a few. It would be a real risk to sign from overseas but i don’t think this will happen. Gradel would create a buzz about the place no doubts,Gary Mackay-Steven or Tommy Rowe would be useful on the creating side of things as well

        • Chareose

          Agree with Tims wish list,,,,,, as for Becchio, hes similar to Smith and I think the Boss wants more mobility hence Blackstock….. We need more pace in the team….. A Winger, a talented youngster and a pacey striker would be great……… Personally I think our back line is ok. Contrary to popular belief we have a a solid defensive record this season

          • Tim Campbelll

            Agreed Chareose pace and the ability to take on the oppositions defence and play the killer pass is crucial. Agreed with TSS that if we signed Becchio it would signal a hoffball approach again. I don’t think thats going to happen with BMac in charge however and i fancy the look of a partnership up front with either doyle-mccormack or Long-Mccormack. Goals will flow

      • john

        Thanks for deleting my comments. I won’t bother reading TSS again.

        • TSS

          I haven’t deleted a comment in about 4 years, so no idea what’s happened there.

        • Matthew

          TSS doesn’t delete comments, you’ll find the comment service likely lagged on you. It’s happened to me before too, when you click submit and the icon loads but no post.

      • Irving08

        The team will do as BM says and, in any case the long ball, judiciously used, is or should be part of any successful team’s armoury. Becchio’s hold-up play was always good, likewise his opportunism, with both head and foot, inside the box. Can he play with McCormack ? – well they are probably better players today then a year or so ago, so why not ?

  • motj

    Great article. Looking forward to Jan just don’t resign Habibou lol

  • Craig

    Utilize our Young talent, get diouffy playing again try him and Mac up-front. Don’t spend just because if sooner they wait till the end. I think our current squad are giving it a good go. Mot

  • Northumberland LUFC

    I think we should bring in a couple of players during the Jan window, it’s learning lessons in the past that will shape our future hopefully. We can only imagine what if, what if Bates had given the thumbs up to allow Simon Grayson to strengthen in Jan window a few seasons back, maybe we would be in PL now.

    I think some options up front to consider are Billy Sharp, Kevin Doyle, Matty Fryatt.

    Midfield, would love Max Gradel back but can’t see this happening, maybe Chris Burke, Birdcutt from Brighton, Owen Garvin.

    MOT

  • Matthew

    Genuinely sad to see Blackstock injured, he did well I agree and would of been a good addition if Forest were willing to sell in January, he slotted in nicely and added to the team. Anyway for what we need, maybe a Winger or 2, another Striker if we’re thinking about the Jan window, too early to say about the one after. Oh and if we’re able too, a couple of pacey midfield players, some as backup, we’re fucked if we get a few injuries, and with the wages cleared at the end of the season would be doable. But that’s me thinking ahead.

    • Flippin-Pop-It-Bruva

      Although i’m genuinely sad for Blackstock i’m really happy he was on loan and isnt costing us a penny. In years gone by we would’ve probably already signed him on a three year deal and then been out injured for two seasons [Like the unfortunate Leeds star that is Davide Somma] I’m very much relishing the prospect of a few decent signings this Jan and i agree with you Matt that we need at least one winger and a striker and they both need to be quick and agile. The rumour mills are already churning out and i would like to think that they arent far off the mark of the sort of quality we need to bring in.Finance will be the only hurdle in bringing in a decent winger and If it were me i would bring in whichever is cheaper of the three; Nahki Wells, Charles N’Zogbia or Max Gradel [would send the club into orbit and double ticket sales] The striker transfer is a much tougher call, do you go for youth or experience? Do you go fast or tall? I would probably turn down the Becchio loan deal and sell Morrison to raise enough money to buy a pacey striker like Grabban from Bournemouth or an untested promising youth in Etien Velikonja [Cardiff] but there’s something that tells me that Brian will sign the Coventry boy called Callum Wilson who is banging them in for fun and will cost about half a million. I do think that at least one Leeds player will have to leave for him to get two players in [as Blackstocks loan wages will be off the books] There is a real big possibility here that for the first time in years we might have an actual war chest and not just a big imaginary one : )

      • Chareose

        I like the idea of Gradel but im wary of the fact that hes been benched for the season….in otherwords he may not be the same player we had before. For my id enquire about him and if it was a relatively cheap risk free option then go for it. If he requires serious money and a long contract then forget it. I still think we should look at Tommy Rowe again as no offence to Pugh and Warnock but Rowe is a proper wing back and bags goals. He can also play in midfield.

  • Bluesman

    Lets be clear about this Bates and Williams have gone. They have gone because GFH have got them out, like at Cricket, remember that old Yorkshire pass time! They needed to go for the good of Leeds United AND they have gone! In my view, it also shows how ruthless the new owners are! They don’t take any shit! So people better be careful. Well what has this to do with it. Well, actually, everything and nothing! They have gone and we have new owners who are going to build the club their way. That is it! Now, will they throw loads of money at Leeds in January? Well I don’t thing so, because they have said all along that they want sustainable growth and to get the right players in and to keep them. So, it will depend on who is available and how much they cost. They are sensible owners, unlike Risdale and some of the others, and they will want to make sure that they squeeze out every ounce of good value for their money. So, should we be optimistic. Definitely! We have Salah Nooruddin and David Haigh in charge for God’s sake. That is a dream come true for me at least after the last few years. I say trust the owners, be patient and things will get a lot better. Be confident, be upbeat, but don’t wish for fool’s gold! Everything is all white again now that we have quality directors in place!

  • Bluesman

    Forgot to say though, that a good striker and a winger would be most welcome, Santa!

  • Ron

    I am simply pretending that January does not exist and will look at the squad each Saturday and if I notice any new faces (or anyone missing without explanation) that this is our work in the window. I am tired of getting excited and I think we should all taper our expectations, especially as we are sitting close enough to the play-offs to avoid any major overhaul. Big Mac knows what he is doing and I think that he agrees with all of us that we need a winger and a striker. Let’s not forget our player of the year last season has barely got back into the swing of it this year and I hope Byram has a blinding second half. Keep the faith and breathe comrades. Nice article btw, your writing is improving all the time.

  • Chareose

    Do Any Leeds fans have any decent knowledge of Gary Mackay Stevens ? Obviously ive seen his You Tube videos and hes shown some incredible tricks…almost George Best like but as we know videos like that don’t really tell you much….. I also appreciate hes had a call up for Scotland but the talk in Scotland appears to be more about his team mate Gould at the moment. So is Steven really as good as the hype makes out ?

  • Jezaldinho

    Personally, i’d LOVE to see Nakhi Wells come to Leeds. He looks an incredible talent. Gary M-S is a good option as is Tommy Rowe – both young, talented and QUICK. Gradel would be welcomed back obviously, but only if it’s for significantly less than what we sold him for.

    I was on the fence re. Becchio but i think I’ve decided we don’t need him. McDermott’s style is more pass and move than hoof and run, and Becchio definitely falls into the latter. TSS mentioned that there could be an off-the-radar foreigner being looked at and i like this idea. I hope it’s the case.

    Can’t see Shane Long coming. Even though his contract is running down, WB still turned down a multi million bid from Hull (i think it was) not long ago. Brian won’t pay over the odds for him when he could bend his ear about a free transfer in the summer, but even that would only happen if we went up.

    For me. We should spend about £3m (wishful i know) on Wells, Gary MS and Tommy Rowe. Anything else should be on loan.

  • NottsWhite

    A tough balancing act for BMcD, if the funds are made available, between strengthening the squad and not destabilising the current morale in the squad. The last two matches have seen no substitutions being used therefore does BMcD have confidence with what is available on the bench ? Options to change the tactics mid game seem the obvious choice for recruitment i.e. wingers and a striker, but don’t be suprised if another midfielder is brought to the club

  • PMH

    I would caution against expecting January signings to translate into results in the short term. It doesn’t take much to upset team chemistry. Even if you find good players you then have to figure how to get them to fit and make the team stronger. There are no guarantees. Buy three players and probably one will work out well, one will be tolerable, and one will be a disaster. Look around the premiership. A lot of money gets wasted.

    • Matthew

      A couple of decent players would fit in well with the squad. A Max Gradel would be good, someone that can help the midfield retain the ball even when we’re over run would be good too. Short term additions if sensible can translate to long term success. The Donny game, second half even should of pointed out the issue of retaining possession at times. We shouldn’t be outplayed by Donny at times lol