Since the 2003/4 season, Leeds United have been very familiar with the loan market, but rarely would you look back on a loan player with fond memories. There are a few exceptions, notably Max Gradel, Richard Naylor and Sol Bamba (his loan spell, rather than the permanent signing version of him). Indeed it seems that any player signed permanently after a successful loan suffers from some sort of curse causing all footballing ability to be drilled out of them, replaced with a hex that draws the ball towards their own goal. My favourite example of this is the curious case of Andy O’Brien, a player who had appeared in the Premier League for several years before Simon Grayson signed him on loan to shore up the shaky defensive, and for a period he was assured, strong and we rose to 2nd place at Christmas. Then he signed permanently and completely self-destructed, as did Leeds’ form in quite spectacular fashion.

The loan market is something that has become almost a necessity for Championship clubs in recent years, rather than truly for ‘emergencies’ after the transfer window closes. In fact, there’s only a period of about a month where the loan market is closed before the January window opens, and yet we contrived to somehow nearly miss the deadline to sign Liam Bridcutt on loan from Sunderland, a player Evans had identified 3 weeks earlier, as well as looking for another 3/4 signings which never materialised. It’s all quite symptomatic of a club that operates with no long term plan, no real sense of direction and who lurch from PR disaster to PR disaster.

One thing that quietly crept through was Will Buckley’s return to his parent club, also Sunderland, in a one in, one out deal for Bridcutt, and that’s where the problem lies. Buckley arrived unfit, out of form and never really fit in with the plans, with Evans being quite happy to send him back to Sam Allardyce, now why does that mean Bridcutt will be any different? He threw him straight in the squad after training just twice, and having played very little football this season, and inevitably QPR’s midfield bossed the game, with Sandro dominating in a drab 1-0 loss for the Whites. For me, we should stop signing loan players altogether.

In an extreme case, such as Silvestri getting injured now, of course, we should sign a loan goalkeeper, but that is a genuine emergency. Otherwise, don’t bother. Seriously, with the club in its current state, with the politics that go on behind the scenes, we’re unlikely to bring in any players that significantly improve the squad. When was the last one that did? Bamba of course, but otherwise, I have no idea. It’s not just the fact that these loan signings aren’t working, it’s that we keep repeating the same mistakes – the scatter-gun approach to transfer policy has bloated our squad to the point where every once in a while, the manager at the time will think “Hmm Doukara hasn’t played in a while, maybe I’ll give him a go” before he appears and boots the ball out of play to remind us that actually, yeah, he is crap. But that’s the problem, we don’t have a small squad, but we also don’t have any depth, just a serious of similarly average or poor players who are clearly affected by the constant change and politics at the club. Even when we have a talented player, off-field problems seem to prevent them from having any impact (see Byram), whether or not he’s in form, he’s undoubtadly better than Scott Wootton, who is only now holding on to his place until Berardi returns.

Loan deals are intended to add quality to your squad on a temporary basis, or in the case of Adeyemi, a try before you buy kind of deal, but in all honesty any loan player at the minute joins a team bereft of confidence, playing unattractive football at the bottom end of the championship, and inevitably they sink to the same level. Our shining lights at the minute are few and far between, Charlie Taylor is a superb player at this level, Lewis Cook is terrific and Alex Mowatt is fantastic on his day, but they’re all getting lost in the midst of this mess. At this point, I’d argue that signing Bridcutt will have little effect, not because he’s not a good player, because he proved that at Brighton, but because it’ll take him a couple of weeks to get into the rhythm of his team-mates, and to gain match fitness, by which point he could be plying his trade under another new manager, if results continue this way.

In a funny way, we’re in a similar position to last season, languishing in the bottom third and playing uninspiring football with our summer signings floundering, and only a dramatic turnaround post christmas saved us, and with Cellino’s ban due any day now and questions surrounding a potential takeover, where do we go from here?

  • Mark

    League 1!

  • Tyler75

    You’re right of course. However, in a monumentally poor performance on Saturday, Bridcutt, considering his lack of game time did pretty well and showed enough to perhaps be the exception that proves the rule. The trouble with over-reliance on young players was shown again on Saturday with Mowatt going missing and Cook having a really poor game. The one shining light is Charlie Taylor, who just seems to get better and better and at the moment is the pick of the crop of our youngsters. Hopefully we’ll hang in to him in January.

  • Ron

    Glad you guys are back writing something, although I can completely understand that being forced to analyse an all-too-familiar shit sandwich must be trying for the best of you. My relationship with football can best be described as having a wicked girlfriend who although was beautiful and charming at the beginning, became heinous, fat and annoying over the years. Said girlfriend accidentally fell down the stairs and died, yet I’m too scared to call the cops because people knew how much she disappointed me and would suspect murder. You catch my drift – I can’t even discuss football any longer for fear of sounding ridiculous.This Leeds United soundtrack is on repeat. No investment, zero pull in the loan market and sadly a great crop of youth becoming despondent and lacking confidence as a result of the shit-show around them. Either we find some bent Chinese investors trying to bury their illegitimate funds outside their governments reach or we are in for more of the same.

  • darrell

    I agree with every word.
    Virtually every loan player we have had, has lengthened our proximity to the premier league yet we haven’t learned and attempted to coach our own players to be better or tried to develop another youngster

  • Matthew

    The problem I see, is that we’ve only got half a team. Sure, Cellino has reduced the wage bill, but he hasn’t recruited much in the way of experienced Championship players, or backups in key positions for when a key player is injured. There’s no reason why this squad can’t be 5-7 players(Of quality) bigger. No doubt we’d actually win some games with the right recruitments.