’15-to-1′: incoming transfers and Stephen Warnock – is he on ‘Countdown’? Graham Smeaton September 4, 2014 Leeds United 19 Comments Well, the transfer window has closed and Leeds United stand as the proud new owners of 15 players at the onset of the International break. Whilst eyes were diverted by the arrival of ‘promising youngsters’, ‘starlets’ and other such gloriously-termed players filling the midfield and attacking ‘flair’ positions; what of the foot-soldiers injured in battle? What of Stephen Warnock? Warnock is Leeds’ joint-top scorer with one goal but what other benefits does he bring to the team? In all fairness, over the 414 minutes of football played this season, Warnock has probably been Leeds United’s most consistent defender. On the Squawka.com website where I crawl through the mire for my stats/number pictures to illustrate the match reports that I produce on my own Leeds United Blog, Warnock tops the Leeds’ defenders with a 5 match total score of 122 points. Now I know that many will say “Yeah, but stats are nothing, it’s the interpretation of them that matters!” and they are right, of course. Numbers, taken in isolation are…well just numbers really. The thing is, Warnock has been putting up some pretty impressive numbers in what, I think we can all admit, has been a pretty p**s-poor defence so far this season. The Leeds’ defensive unit reminds me of a typical English summer; it is grey and dismally ineffective and there are brief glimpses of promise that look like sunnier times ahead. Amidst the gloominess and bad performances, Warnock has been there in those ‘brighter areas’ more consistently than others that he has lined up alongside. He is ranked the 4th out of all Championship players for interceptions per game with an average of 3.4 intercepts p/game; only centre backs rank higher than him in this category. Often, the small things that a player does are missed by the ‘fan eyes’ as the passion they bring when watching their team play simmers over. They focus on the missed header or mis-kicked clearances rather than the timely toe nudging the ball from an attacker’s feet and into touch. Not only does Stephen Warnock defend consistently well but he also shows accurate distribution of the ball. On a per 90 minute basis, Warnock attempts to distribute the ball around 42 times with a passing accuracy of 86% showing tidy aspects in this area and one aspect of his play that shouldn’t be overlooked. The Squawka OPTA stats have him as a solid contributor across the three areas that they measure: defence (56), possession (40) and attack (26) and this is in a Leeds’ team where the next highest ranked defender has a grand total of 14 points (Jason Pearce) and one on -72 (Sam Byram). Amidst the transfer influx and the anticipation of seeing the first Brazilian in the white of Leeds United since Roque Junior’s cameo back in the ‘dark days’, will people forget about those still there and quietly going about their job in a steady and consistent, if unspectacular, way. Stephen Warnock is one of these and, should he remain sidelined, it does look like Leeds will turn to the youngster Charlie Taylor to fill Warnock’s boots at left back.