The Preamble

Ah, the January transfer window, the time when we all rub out little mitts like Mr Burns from The Simpsons and wonder what riches will be bestowed on us and how it will turn us from also-rans, through nearly-rans and towards smoothly-rans - we tend to fall somewhere between these ‘rans’ and never quite reach ‘smoothly’ status; we also tend to stumble more like drunks or toddlers trying to regain their balance rather than thoroughbreds running with consummate assurance.

It seems that the Pavoletti transfer is playing to the right tune and that his signature is imminent and a mere formality, it being wrapped up in the very near future. There are also rumours floating around that we are looking to bring in Inter Milan’s Rene Krhin to replace Rodolph Austin who is apparently being allowed out on loan with Brighton and Millwall allegedly interested in his services.

With this in mind attention is turned elsewhere to plug some gaps and, let’s be frank, there are enough to plug that a new team could be ordered to do that job. But, unfortunately, thanks to the Football League’s ‘embargo’ for breaking FFP regulations – actually going £15 million over the £8 million limit allowed, Leeds have four spaces in their ‘established squad’ list to play with. If Pavoletti and Krhin sign (without Leeds being able to arrange Austin’s loan out), as is being mooted, then that leaves only the two spare places available. As ever, names are being floated around and the current two being mentioned are Juventus’ Italian centreback Luca Marrone and Catania’s Brazilian-born Italian left midfielder Raphael Martinho.

Luca Marrone

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Listed on Whoscored.com as a ‘central defender’, yet mentioned elsewhere as a defensive midfield player, 24-year old Marrone seems a solid and dependable sort of player who has strengths in three main areas. Firstly, his tackle rate is high and over the two main seasons he played in Serie A (Sassuolo and Juventus) he completed 80% of the tackles he attempted. Secondly, he is also comfortable with the ball in his possession and he has a better than average success rate when dribbling with the ball, completing 66% of all dribbles attempted. Thirdly,  he possesses another strength in that he is a high-volume passer with impressive accuracy, for example he completed 92% of the average 59 passes per game playing for Juventus in Serie A in 2012/13.

Raphael Martinho

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Martinho presents himself quite differently to the effective tidiness demonstrated by Luca Marrone. He has amassed much more game time experience than Marrone in Serie A (2,547 minutes in 49 appearances) and his experience at this tier does show some encouraging tendencies. In Serie A it was his willingness to run at the opposition in his natural wide left position that is one thing that Leeds lack at any great level of consistency; Martinho making 113 attempted dribbles, succeeding in 59 of these. However, another facet of his game that Mssrs Salerno and Cellino might have been enamoured to is his contribution whilst in Serie B. During the two seasons he has played at this level (2012/13 for Verona and the current season with Catania) he has scored a total of 13 goals and provided 9 assists.

Verdicts

Like the little Dutch boy plugging a leak in a dyke, wait that was a film I saw once…anyway, like the story of the Dutch boy whose simple act of plugging a leak saved an earthen dam from breaking. The thing is at Leeds we have more than one leak that needs plugging and potentially only 4 ‘established squad’ places available to act like the little boy’s fingers. I’m not sure what you guys think or what you think are priorities but I will sling my ha’pennorth worth in to the mix.

We concede too much, both goals and shots to the opposition; more shots give the opposition more opportunities to lash balls goal-bound. That in itself is a recipe for disaster, one which our defensive frailties don’t really help with. I must admit, I’m not really enamoured with any of the combinations that we have tried out in the centre of the defensive backline; it’s been a case of either Barry and Paul or Barry and Paulo Chuckle at times. None of our central defenders are commanding in the air, losing more than the fair share of headed duels that a centre back should. That’s one ‘plug’ that I would make sure I hammered in there, more defensive solidity and composure. Luca Marrone could possibly provide that if he is a natural central defender; if a defensive midfield player then I sorely doubt he could stem the flow enough.

Added to reducing opponent’s shots on goal, we need to raise our own game and start creating chances at the other end. We don’t put teams under enough pressure, gifting them tracts of the field and passages of play where we allow them to set the agenda. At the moment I think there is only one real thing stopping that and I think it’s the inflexibility of the ‘diamond’ system and what it forces the players to do. I think we have the nucleus of players that could do a job for us, the formation doesn’t allow them to do that. Over-run in midfield, we always seem to be on the back foot – defending rather than attacking. Playmakers like Adryan are having to track back, receive the ball and turn and run for longer at the defence rather than receiving it further up the field and surging towards the box, committing opponents into tackles and areas they don’t want to be in. That’s where someone like Martinho might come in handy; not afraid to take opponents on and able to weigh in with goals and assists; things that we are sorely lacking at the moment.

Whatever we do in this transfer window, I really hope it is a player for a reason not just for a player’s sake. If you purchase on impulse, you always end up with ill-fitting garments.

  • Tim

    Good summing up. I think Adryan is potentially the best playmaker in the Championship but we see him plugging holes as you say rather than opening up the opposition. Some of his passing going forward though has been quite stunning but recently the opposition has sussed us out and he has had no service.
    I really hope we play Montenegro and Del Fabro at Sunderland and give them a starting chance and if we make changes then please NR do then with time in hand and not the farce against Derby bringing on Adryan with 10 to go.
    You can judge a top manager by his substitute decision making and Redfearn has failed in this respect. However despite new recruits I guess a lose against Bolton will see him step back.
    It was interesting to see Rosler doing the summing up at Sky Sports against Derby and particularly his in depth knowledge of our squad – watch this space………….!

    • NottsWhite

      Rosler did seem to have extensive knowledge of the Leeds squad however he does not inspire after the dogs dinner He made of the Wigan job. Their squad is much better than ours.

  • joe

    Should be our first 11:

    Silvestri

    Berardi bellusci cooper Warnock

    Cook mowatt

    Byram adryan Montenegro

    Antenucci

    • Chareose

      joe, ok but its too light weight………….to be fair I think Adryan works very hard so I don’t view him as a week link . I think its mowatt in central midfield that’s the problem…..hes just not that type of player. You need some one whops fierce, has a bad attitude and an incredible engine to play in the middle of that midfield and that’s not Mowatt. Either play Mowatt on the right in a “Speed type role or bench him” Cooks partner needs to be a Bowyer type player….. I hope that’s why we are looking at the Slovenian guy from Inter. I agree with the rest of your formation

  • NottsWhite

    The potential targets suggest that the diamond formation will remain. Does this Support the view that the head coach is tactically deficient or the formation is the will of Cellino. The second issue is that Redfearn has commented he only wants options from the bench, these signings would suggest automatic starters. This would leave Redfearn the dilema of who he drops from Bianchi, Mowatt and Cook. Redfearn champions all these players and will be reluctant to drop any of them (at his Peril)

    • Adam Persson

      Redders knows who to bench and he saw it clearlclearly last game..Bianchi was awful. As för CBs I don’t think he’d have much against getting rid of Bellusci, he has too much of a temper anyway. In the Striker position he could start with different strikers depending on opposition. It’ll work out! :)

      • NottsWhite

        He had no hesitation in starting with Bianchi after subbing him at half time in the Wigan game. Your faith in Redfearn is greater than mine

        • Chareose

          I think Bianchi is tidy but doesn’t impose himself on games, the same goes for Mowatt…. Hes not contributing enough when hes not been scoring. That said if we could get a winger on the left and then play Mowatt in a Gary Speed role on the right, it could work….. Cook is quality and at his best plays other teams off the park, as he gets older he will dominate more and more but right now he needs a decent central midfield partner and neither Mowatt or Bianchi are it. Austin runs around a lot and tackles but that’s where his contribution ends. Its not enough for any team with any ambition (and we are here after all to try to get out of this division)
          I agree that the diamond might work if you have the right players but wide players give you extra options and an easy release valve if things arnt going great (just knock it to the wing and let the boy run). Grahams point about Adryan is very valid, I agree that hes being restricted by how deep our team plays and we may have not seen the best of him

  • oldschoolbaby

    You can see where it will all go wrong during the warm ups. We are being bullied by bigger, more powerful, taller teams. Doukara, who is a big unit, doesn`t seem temperamentally dispositioned to throwing his weight around and Austin can`t do much systematically. Beyond those two we`re lightweight unless Berardi unleashes the ninja within. Lack of physicality can`t be rectified in this window.
    None of the Championships big powerful players are world beaters. So, as I see it we don`t have an option other than to pretend we`re Barcelona, go for it, and play some football. I think that`s how NR wants to set us up He should be opting for the blaze of glory rather than losing his nerve

    • Irving08

      Agreed, but Berardi and Pearce have to play. Together with Byram, Cook, Antenucci, Silvestri and Adryan, these are the players whom I broadly trust for the full 90minutes, to get us out of this mess; these would be the core of my side. To go with them, I would choose Cooper, Dawson, Bellusci (in the Radebe role), and Taylor.

      • oldschoolbaby

        That`s a lot of youthful exuberance to deploy without some solidity behind them.. I still think you discard Bianchi too lightly. He`s a one trick pony but he`s competent in that role. Cook may be diminished a little further up the park but he`s good enough to compensate and contribute. Bianchi is incapable of making a contribution anywhere else on the park.
        Bellusci is a pony with many tricks, a number of which would inevitably sell the youngsters short. He`s diminutive too to the point no one even expects him to contribute aerially at the back, which is unfair on Cooper and Pearce when they`re attracting a bit of criticism.

        • Irving08

          It would be a cleverer side, though, swifter too. I can see Dawson and Adryan working openings together, creating goal-scoring opportunities for Byram – in a more forward role – and Cook (where I can agree with you). We’d miss Mowatt’s left foot, for long passes and edge of the area shooting too; against that, he doesn’t seem to be a game-maker (cf Dawson) – hmm a tough one. The defensive solidity we need can really only be provided by a Wes Morgan type centre back. As we don’t have one on our books, I am gambling that my side would be playing the majority of the game in the opposition’s half !

          • henrymouni

            We need a ball winner in midfield, desperately.
            Until we get one we will have a lot of defending to do Irv.
            Cook is the nearest midfielder, but he needs rest.

          • Irvingo08

            Bellusci in front of back four would go some of the way to deal with the point; though, I agree, an Alfie Haaland would be most welcome. My fear is that, in pursuit of an only so-so ball-winner (but we might strike lucky of course), one of our up and coming youngsters will stagnate, or in Dawson’s case, just leave. Hmm dilemmas, dilemmas ……..A Bob Molenaar in defence would be my priority.

  • henrymouni

    We are always ‘targeting 4 players’ in every transfer window.
    Even in the dark days of Bates this was mentioned.
    It ended up with us selling our best player and bringing in some loanee plonker in instead.
    There are so many holes in our dyke that we can plug one each!

    I suppose the finger is significant!

    • Graham

      That’s never Bates…

      • henrymouni

        He is a master of disguise Graham!
        He used his finger for putting holes in the dyke!!

        • Graham

          “Putting holes in dykes” – he went downhill when they cancelled his advertising for Fish Fingers

          • Thommohawk

            Captain Birdseye lol

      • oldschoolbaby

        I`ve seen this picture before. I can`t remember whether it`s when he attended an official reception with the Royal Family of Monaco or when he was invited to deliver the Christmas address to the legislature of the British Virgin Islands. It`s definitely Bates with his initial greeting.

        • henrymouni

          I think it was something to do with the Bank of Ireland fiasco, osb!
          Unrepentant is the word I am looking for!!!!

  • Mike

    I’d like to see the backside of Norris, Morison, Thompson, White(yes he’s still here somehow), Cairns, Wootton and Hunt in this window, let’s get them off the books so we can trim the squad a bit. Having over 30 players in the squad is ludicrous in the Championship and it’d be good to get some wages off the books.

    • Graham

      Mike – that’s a lot of backsides to want to see :-)

      • henrymouni

        A load of Bums!!!

        • Mike

          I didn’t realize this site had become so racy!

    • henrymouni

      Just in from Thorpe Arch Mike!
      First 4 on their way!
      They don’t seem too upset?

  • Scally Lad

    I’d be content to see a goal – any kind of goal – sometime! This boredom of matches with no productivity is endless. These repeated clean sheetings by dull, loser sides are driving me mad.

  • Old Jake

    Off topic guys but forgive me. I want to say something about Cellino and his number 17 thing because if what we are seeing is his idea of lucky God protect LUFC if bad luck comes our way. I have a friend, a very long term LUFC fan who is into numbers and stuff. He tells me that Cellino has it totally wrong and that 17 is actually a very lucky number, says that as long as this goes on things will just get worse. It was a while ago he said that and so far, he’s bang on. Own goals, hit the bar, three managers-maybe four after we get done by Bolton. I’m starting to think he might be right.

    • Mike

      Wouldn’t this have applied to Cagliari (Itai team he owned before)? He had some relatively decent success there, never had a drop season or any of that nonsense. Now if you’re saying no number 17 is bad because it means Michael Brown is gone i will definitely have to agree with ya there!

      • Old Jake

        I don’t believe in that stuff myself. It’s Cellino who does and let’s face it-things just go from bad to worse for him at LUFC. It’s a fairly widely held superstition in Italy apparently, but not in the UK. Maybe it works at Cagliari but not here! Cheers.

  • Jack

    I think this is a great article and completely agree with the points you make; particularly the point about letting the opposition have too many shots and I think this stems from the formation. As the diamond gives us no great width it means Byram and Warnock have been needed to attack a hell of a lot more than they should – obviously leaving us light at the back. I think the way forward with the current state of the team would be to play a back 3 with wing backs. So if we do bring in Marrone he could be the ideal player for a back 3 as someone who can both pass and tackle. I also think it’s quite important either Sharp starts playing as a number 9 and a number 9 only; or we sign someone who will, as we never have anyone in the bloody box when we do finally create something!

  • Thommohawk

    Definitely need something at center back and on the wings…..

    We haven’t had a solid defence in such a long time. Does anyone remember Sam Sodje? Simon Grayson signed him on loan he was an athletic center back but we only had him for a few months before he moved on I dunno why we didn’t sign him permanently as he was our best defender by far IMO. Someone like him paired with a big brick shit house who can move that’s what we need – presence and pace at the back. We have neither right now.

    We also need pace and trickery on the wings, again we have neither at the minute. And we wonder why we are hovering outside the relegation zones. It’s the same old story never wanting for a decent goalie or central midfielders or strikers but almost always lacking quality defenders and wingers…..

    We haven’t got wingers and there’s not a single person in that Leeds defence that anybody would consider good or imposing or athletic. We have those in other areas of the pitch, but not in defence at all and that’s the problem.

    • henrymouni

      We have these discussions every transfer window, speculating on the players we are linked with, but nobody exciting actually signs for us.
      Let us hope this one will be different!