Aston Villa’s Barry Bannan and Birmingham City’s Jordan Mutch are the two names being linked with Leeds United today as Simon Grayson continues his search for midfield reinforcements.

Both these players are highly talented youngsters with a great career ahead of them. Both come with rave reviews and have both featured at youth level for England. However, at 21 and 19 years of age, neither are the experienced box-to-box midfielder Leeds have been crying out for.

They both seem to fit a similar mould as Sanchez Watt. Technically gifted, developing quickly and most definitely ‘one for the future’. But is that something Leeds United really need at this moment in time?

Throughout the 2010/11 campaign, Leeds’ defensive troubles have stemmed from a lack of midfield support. The 4-6 horror show at home to Preston stands out as a perfect example of where an experienced midfielder was needed to restore order to a Leeds side that had struck the self-destruct button.

We needed someone with a calm head and experience of riding out pressure from the opposition. Someone who can not only win the tackles, but also slow the game down and restore order, allowing Leeds United to regroup and reassert their authority. If we had this hypothetical player against Preston, I have no doubt in my mind that we’d have an extra 3 points on the board at this moment in time.

It’s an unglamorous role that the likes of Shaun Derry once filled successfully. He was the kind of player that could suck all life out of a match when Leeds were ahead by keeping the ball in the corners, winning throws and goal-kicks and basically irritating a thirsty opposition. It’s not pretty to watch, but it does stop teams like Preston putting six past you and Barnsley another five.

I don’t doubt Simon Grayson is aware that he needs someone like this, the problem I assume is finding someone that fits that mould. Unless you have bucket-loads of money to splash around, you’re not going to find a player like this in January and you have even less chance as an emergency loan in March.

All this leaves is youngsters. Most of whom could use an experienced midfielder themselves to play alongside and learn from. The best we can hope for is that Grayson gets lucky and stumbles across the next David Batty.

31 Responses

  1. Mike

    He needs to look for vindictive manager like himself who has such a player but the face doesn’t fit so will get rid for nowt.
    Except that there are not many managers that daft.

  2. Gryff

    Agree with you TSS we definitely need an experienced head playing in front of the defenders.

    That said, while I don’t know much about Mutch (ho ho ho), I reckon Bannan could be a key signing if we are to stand a chance of promotion this season.

    Who can we get on loan who fits the description of the defensive midfielder we all want? It’s a tough one because most lads of that age will either be first teamers, or else will have left in January…


    Bannan is Scottish TSS, and a full international. Also played in the Prem for Villa so not as untested as Watt. Commented on your earlier blog that he looked very good when he played alongside Snoddy for Scotland.
    Would be a big improvement on Killa but not the defence rock we need in midfield.

  4. mike weaver

    WE need to bring in some young talent,I dont know why they havent put nunez in and give a shot.After saturdays loss to swansea not to far from where i live,I think he should start changing the team around a little bit,becase there’s a few players that aint doing enough,IE defenders are letting to many goals in,When your 3-1 up how can you let the other team score 2 ,weve had to many draws, when we should of won most of our games.come on gryson my son sort it out.

  5. Mike

    Larry has dug a hole he cant get out of the more he tries the deeper he gets, he has lost his way and his compass.

  6. Mike

    and Larry drops his head too many times for my liking, did you ever see Fergie or any other top manager drop their head when things go wrong? They start shouting and bawling at the players showing their anger, not a good signal to the troops, dropping your head.
    Maybe we need to send him a big box of chewing gum :-) Get some passion Larry.

  7. Shaun

    Wel expericance is good dont always lead to go look at the time blackwell woz in charge Tht said we have young exciting players now but woz a young defence mind midfielder craig eastmond but millwall got him so is some good young one’s out there but I say bring bak batty proper player

  8. Shaun

    Also y and where as adam clayton gone have we brought him to sit at home on saturdays

  9. tim campbell

    I think giving the likes of nunez, sam, and mcCormack might freshen things up a bit – agreed that in recent weeks our play has been a bit jaded

  10. tedbaker

    Let’s go the hole wild hog. Dial up in no order and without any positional precision:
    Jack Charlton
    Norman Hunter
    Vinnie Jones
    Joe Jordan (recently limbered)
    The fat Croatian guy
    Jack from the Shining
    Mike Tyson
    My mum with a rolling pin

  11. The Reaper 08

    Small point but this is paper talk so they may or may not be the gaffers actual targets, story originated in the Mail so you can decide.

    Also as I put in my forum post Michael Brown would 100% be available and is exactly the type of player we could do with. An irritating pest in the middle of the park he is available due to contract issues at Pompey, is fit, experienced at Champ and PL level and should be desperate to have a good dozen or so games somewhere to earn a contract for next season.

  12. tim campbell

    Dare I say it but we have become rather predictable whether it be 4-5-1 or 4-4-2. Our selections have been predictable week in week out and worst of all the responses from our manager and chairman have been bloody predictable too!!

      • Matt BB

        definitely not yet Reaper, they have a relegation battle to see themselves through, and to that end, forget about Jordon Mutch.

        though he will be available in the summer, too old for grayson? who seems to like a young average age in the squad?

  13. Tim Hodge

    There’s been talk today that Bowyer won’t get his contract renewed at the end of the season. He said it himself.

    But, me thinks that may be just his way of ensuring he does get a new deal.

    Michael Brown would be a cracking player to get in. Otherwise I’m not sure how many experienced midfielders are available for loan at this time of the season.

    It’s definitely a role that needs to be filled in the summer and I hope we might actually send some scouts out. There’s got to be a player in our price range lurking in Scandinavia or Eastern Europe.

    • Gryff

      Or else puts himself in the window for other clubs?
      He’s not averse to switching clubs every 2-4 years, but I’d imagine any of the current bottom 6 (minus Brummyham apparently!) in the Prem would be at least interested in him, plus whoever goes up. Leeds aren’t the best of competitors when it comes to signings…

  14. Tim Hodge

    Oh and on Barry Bannan, I would love him to arrive but it would have to be in Kilkenny’s place. We still need a battle-scarred brute alongside him.

    Bannan has looked a class act for Villa and Scotland, which makes me think this rumour may be rubbish. In all honesty, he’s too good for us at this moment.

  15. Irving08

    Lee Bowyer is today’s Strachan. We were never the same after Ridsdale put himself above the courts.

  16. badras

    I would give alex bruce a go in that role and bring in bromby at cb. I know bruce doesnt want to play that role but hes paid good money to play for us so should just play where asked

    • Gryff

      I’d imagine that Bruce would be pretty good playing in front of the defence, but he’s just made a very solid partnership with O’Brien despite the pressure being put on them by gaps elsewhere. Every time Bromby has come in, he’s made errors with his positioning etc.

      Bromby’s quite good technically, but in terms of knowing who to mark and where to go I think he gets caught out much too easily. I’d be worried that moving Bruce forward would just move the gap from the rear of midfield to the heart of defence?

      • Jobber

        Bromby did well against qpr and the defensive unit as a whole have not been picking up men like they should, that’s why we concede so many from set plays. I dont know why Larry hasn’t tried Bruce there already, it can’t be any worse than it is at the moment

      • Gryff

        Yeah but defensive set-plays have about 8 men involved, not just the defence. Most of the problems in set pieces seem to come from the midfield.

  17. MrBigStuff

    I agree about Michael Brown hes the type of player we are missing at the minute..
    Would like to see McCormack given a start up top as well…

  18. Matt BB

    We went for Montgomery and Eustace over the summer, missed them for a variety of reasons, and it has come back to bite us.

    I stand by my earlier comments as regards not needing an enforcer, more an organiser in the midfield.

    To that end I dont see a problem with Grayson looking over Bannon, or Johnson as both are already possessing a reasonable amount of experience at a higher level, and have been recipient of excellent coaching.

    I just have a feeling that we will still be talking about this after a dfeat to Doncaster, and no one will have been brought in..

    I did note someone elses point concerning overseas players, and once again we di trial people here that Jamaican player – morrison? also some french trialist came and went, as did Michael Stewart – who would have done a job.

    I just wonder sometimes how high our standards are? and how ironic that is considering some of the clearly league one standard players we began the season with. We have seen players like Prutton, Douglas, and Doyle go who would have neatly filled that gap and given 110% while doing it, and just not replaced them with like for like.

    I remember Venables talking about the `imbalanced’ squad he inheirted when O’Leary left, where he didnt have one right wing player and about 4 left sided players, only about 2 fit central midfielders and I feel often we are guilty of that right now.

    We have signed `randoms’ in the shape of Clayton, Thompson and dare i say Nunez, and not moved on the likes of Grella who doesnt look like he’ll ever get a regular placein our line up.

    What an awful transfer policy we have. Paralysed by over-prudence, and a hole plugging mentality – whatever happened to `planning’.

    • Mark

      Absolutely bang on Matt.

      This is where i take issue with Grayson and believe he has to shoulder responsibility above others. In pursuing Montgomery and Eustace he recognised the the need for a midfield general in the summer and the following March we are still waiting.

      Leeds now find themselves in the ridiculous position of having to rely on the generosity of other clubs in letting their inexperienced/unfit or unwanted players join us for a couple of months in order to keep our season on track. Grayson filled his squad (at no little expense) with cover for all positions except where it was actually needed. Nine players in since promotion and (apart from Schmiechel) Leeds are no better off.

      Even if Leeds all of a sudden found money to invest in the playing squad, I really dont know how much faith i would have in Grayson investing it wisely.

      I dont really know enough about the players Leeds have been linked with (Bannon and Mutch) to feel optimistic or not (thats assuming the speculation is correct), however even if Leeds are able to bring them there has to be a question mark over how often they would actually play given that Grayson hasn’t played many of his other signings.

      I think Michael Brown would be a great signing for Leeds, no chance of that happening then.

  19. Arnie

    Couldn’t agree more with this piece. The side is crying out for an experienced head in the middle of the park, someone who will win the ball, keep it, and spread it to our wingers. Kilkenny was all but invisible against Swansea and just isn’t up to the job. Johnson is a physical presence, but he’s not going to sit and protect the back four.
    Grayson’s loan deals seems to target inexperienced Prem players who may have promise but are still unproven. We’d be better going after a proven championship clogger IMO!
    Some of the posts on TSS have it right. We had a great opportunity to push on and permanently invest in one or two quality players in the transfer window. Instead Bates spurned it, leaving Grayson scrabbling around the loan market. And how committed are these guys likely to be to the club when there is no guarantee of a contract at the end of it?!
    PS George McCartney – I think the fans have seen through him now as have opposition wingers! Shocking! Shouldn’t play for Leeds again this season, but as Sunderland pay part of his wages we’ll probably be obliged to include him in the team. What on earth must Ben Parker think?

  20. Reiver

    Grayson’s plan is obvious. He’s building a team for the future. We’ll be able to have a serious punt at promotion in two or three years time.


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