The forgotten window of hope TSS October 20, 2014 Leeds United 17 Comments Such was Leeds United’s reliance on short-term, quick fixes to major deficiencies within the squad, the emergency loan window was a shining beacon of hope in previous years. But after a busy summer of transfer activity The Whites have so far resisted the temptation to further exploit a system intended to be used as a last resort when injury crises hit. During the Bates era in particular, the summer transfer window generally saw us lose key players and replace them with free, out-of-contract has-beens and we grew to expect nothing better. The emergency loan window however allowed us to dream of the Premier League youngsters who may become available to us – players whose talent and flair could lift us from also-rans to promotion candidates. The reality of sprinkling an Andros Townsend or a Ross Barkley across a steaming pile of journeyman dross didn’t quite live up to the hopes and dreams of the Leeds United faithful, but with a far more capable base to build upon, could Darko Milanic glean greater rewards from the emergency loan window? There’s been little in the way of transfer speculation since Milanic arrived, but as his Leeds side prepare to face Norwich City tomorrow night still searching for a first win under the new boss, one would assume he has ideas on where his squad falls short and who could be brought in to improve it. One player who has been linked is Anel Hadžić, a midfielder who represented Bosnia at this years World Cup and currently plays for Milanic’s former club, SK Sturm Graz. It’s more likely we’d be looking at him as a permanent transfer instead of an emergency loan and that’s always going to be preferable, but we shouldn’t totally discard the merits of short-term signings. There hasn’t been a World Cup featuring Leeds United players since 2006, but the aforementioned loanee Ross Barkley did make England’s squad this year and Andros Townsend was unfortunate to be ruled out through injury. The success of those two players – even if they didn’t manage to fully demonstrate their abilities at Elland Road – is what makes the allure of the emergency loan window so enduring. However impressed we may have been by the summer 2014 recruits, there’s always room for improvement and the emergency loan window gives Championship clubs like Leeds access to potentially world class youngsters who’d otherwise be off-limits. None of that is to say we should return to the Ken Bates model of near total reliance on loanees, but I do wonder how the likes of Ross Barkley and Andros Townsend would have fared alongside the better quality players we now have. Ken Bates used to talk of using the emergency loan window for “icing on the cake” but the cake was too badly neglected for icing to cover up its shortcomings. Maybe now, with a decent squad to build upon, a Townsend or a Barkley could make a real impact at Elland Road and help transform us into genuine promotion candidates?