Oh how lovely it must be for a season to go by when one of your key players isn’t nearing the end of his contract, deadlocked in negotiations with our tight-fisted board and attracting the interest of Premier League relegation fodder.

First there was Jermaine Beckford, then there was Max Gradel and now there’s Jonny Howson. It wouldn’t be quite as depressing if Leeds United didn’t already have 2012/13’s drama set in place –  a la Snodgrass, Clayton, Somma and McCormack.

Yes, it’s wrong to be using players with two years remaining on their contract to blast the clubs contract policies, but does anyone honestly believe these contracts will be sorted before we have to sit through another six months of perpetual news feeds serving up one link after another, whilst the player decides he is no longer capable of answering simple questions with anything but ambiguity?

Regardless of how naive/pessimistic you may be, those are matters we can tear our hair out over in due course – for now, let’s concentrate our follicle extraction on Jonny Howson. The Leeds born, Leeds bred, Leeds supporting, Leeds United captain should never have become a player we were in fear of losing. Over 200 appearances for the club, Mr Leeds United is the club’s longest serving player – by quite some margin too if you consider his youth career.

Yet despite the fact Jonny is a player who bleeds blue, white and yellow, talks over his new deal appear to be getting nowhere, rumours of interest from other clubs are starting to surface and the words of reassurance coming from Jonny are far from reassuring.

Speaking after the 3-0 win over Doncaster Rovers Friday night, Jonny said;

“We’re still discussing things. From my point of view I just want to play in a team which can give performances like that, and if we keep doing that then I’m sure it (the contract) will take care of itself.

“I’ll put it to the back of my mind.

“They (contracts) are big decisions at any time. It’s your career and you’ve got to make the right decision.

“But my aim is to get Leeds into the Premier League and if we keep producing performances like that then it won’t be a problem.”

It’s almost like Jonny is issuing the club an ultimatum – “Match my ambition, or I’m off – football careers are too short.”

And whilst I doubt Jonny would ever leave Elland Road, it’s not hard to sympathise with his current plight. He helped us fight defiantly through the loss of Beckford, but we brought plenty of new blood in for the start of last season which will have settled any fears the team may have had.

But where does Jonny look to see a similar level of ambition this season? His concerns are similar to that of the support; the transfer window was a massively depressing couple of months where Leeds United made a net loss in terms of quality.

For the time being, Leeds are in good form and Jonny, like the fans, is at relative peace. But he wants to play Premier League football while he’s still young enough to improve with the experience, and if Leeds United can’t deliver a team capable of doing that then, like the fans, Jonny may become restless.


39 Responses

  1. walter

    I dont understand all this talk about getting to the Premiership? The fact is, no matter who pulls on the shirt, Leeds Utd will not take its place in the top flight until KB gets KB’d! KB will not resign, nor will he sell up until all his development work is complete and in the black. Once he has built his empire, he will sell up, we will do a Man Citeh (possibly) and that will be that. However, that scenario is at least 3 or 4 years away, so, i hate to say it, get used to him being around, and get used to another lengthy stretch in the championship, that is unless we have another dodgy season and end up back in the desolate Lg1!

    Follow the season closely, if Leeds are in the top 2 with a month left, watch the decline. Yes, we will end up in the play-offs, because that is at least 2, possibly 3 more games where KB can line his very deep pockets. Another defeat at Wembley could well be on the cards……..

  2. E Walker448

    Anybody watching Jonny Howson last night would be wondering what all the fuss is about. Another listless display where Jonny went missing when the pressure was on and once again he was comprehensively outplayed by Adam Clayton. If Jonny can get back his form and gets back into games the team will have a lot better chance of ‘matching his ambitions’. We have had Tom Lees, Zak Thompson and Ramon Nunez sign extended deals recently and thius showing more ambition to play for Leeds so we should be concentrating on these types of players rather than the ones who want away (not saying that is Jonnies aim but if it is there is probably little we can do).
    #Remember all the minor entities in the PL who were queuing up for Kilkenny ??? He finished up at Bristol City and will probably be plying his trade back in Div 1 next season. 

  3. Pawson124

    i agree with Jonny’s ambition. All he wants is to get in the premier league with his home town club sooner rather than later and no one can blame him for that. He just wants us to be a competitive team that’s fighting for promotion , which if we keep up our recent performances we will be doing, if we are doing well by January and looking like a team that’s gonna get promoted he will sign ….hopefully, because despite of what some people say ,he goes invisible etc , he is a premier league player in the making. 

  4. oldhamwhite

    let howson go he’s constantly going missing, when he plays close to clayton there quick passing gets us out of situations and they can control that midfield, last night they looked like they had fallen out in my eyes, all night they stayed well away from each other and didn’t even talk it was like they had a lovers tiff.

    my eyes give snoddy the armband that guy does have his off days but at least he never gives up and tries to rally the team, put Ramon Nunez in midfield were he wants to be.

    he’s got the trickery, the pace and has shown his desire to play for leeds by choosing us over his international side. or even give mika start 

    howson needs a wake up call, aka beckford for 09/10


  5. CJ

    Bates must be completely thick to allow the contract of yet another one of our top player’s to expire.
    Surely even a tight fisted twat like Bates must know its false economy to allow this to happen. It beggars belief!

  6. Hooptada

    Fair enough from Jonny. I don’t think he’ll got to a big prem side and would suspect he’ll sign in the end.

  7. Jmrbailey

    I wish these clubs would just stay the fuck away from our players, and similarly that the fucking press would just stop making up shit to try and rile the lufc faithfull – just fuck off, please!

  8. grayman

    strangely enough I have to ask have we really missed those players? Beckford was replaced by Becchio and now McCormack  – no great loss there. Gradel gone but Pugh is releasing White and they defend as well as attack; so it brings greater balance to the team – maybe an improvement. If Howson goes, then Nunez can play behind the front two and bring some energy and creativity which Howson is failing to do. Or we bring the Fin on to make us more solid.

    • Irving08

      Gradel is sorely missed. We now have to work much harder for our goals. Then there is the argument that his presence meant we could play last season’s largely successful formation, thus making the most of Howson going forward. None of which is an objection to teh Pugh/White combo. These are difficult choices…but there is a touch of sour grapes in your hint that because we couldn’t keep him (Gradel) we don’t need him.

      • grayman

        It’s not sore grapes re Gradel leaving – but it might be trying to see the postive in it. Thinking about it, you right we really miss Gradel’s ability to open up defences and I would much rather he was still with us than gone. Perhaps we play more as a team now without individuals like Beckford and Gradel. So I would rather Max was still with us. Beckford? Nah

  9. ivor biggun

    Dont you mean first Beckford, then Killkenny, old row z johnson, then Gradel now Howson and which star follows next. Mind on this years form Howson wont be a big loss.

  10. irving08

    I don’t think Howson should be made a touchstone of the club’s ambition. Think not what the club can do for Howson, but what Howson can do for the club and, if we are all honest, we are not sure how to answer this question, for reasons that have been well rehearsed on this site.   

  11. Dhoward1

    I still don’t think Howson will leave, Beckford, Gradel and you can argue Johnson left to half decent teams who could offer them contracts Leeds couldn’t whilst playing at a higher level. If Jonny leaves for a team like Blackburn or West Brom then he needs his head examining, he is Leeds captain and a childhood supporter! And whilst i am not doubting he has Premier League ambitions, what can he really forefill at teams like that?

    He’s not having the greatest season so far but he’s 23 and will improve with every year, he needs time to learn the role in which he is playing. It’s Claytons natural game playing this 4-4-2, Howson has just had a season of playing behind Becchio and it almost seems as though he is playing too defensive, i would like to see him in and around the opponents box more as that’s where he is at his best and let Clayton sit a bit more.

    Sign him up long term, it’s a no brainer!

  12. oldschool

    Johnny Howson should remember the old adage “Be careful what you wish for..” It is alright all these players claiming they want to play in the Premiership. The bottom line is that the majority of the current Leeds squad are not Premiership quality as Scum Reserves showed us recently. If Leeds were to get promoted the squad would have to be significantly improved to have any chance of staying up and Howson is a player who may well be culled to make way. Both Bolton and Balckburn are struggling in the PremI and likely to panic buy so if Leeds get a good offer for him they should take it, every player has a price!

  13. CJ

    You mention Beckford, Gradel & now Howson. Add to that list the likes of Johnson, Kilkenny and Schmeichel who have all either left on free transfers or failed to agree terms on a new contract even though Grayson clearly wanted them to stay. Bates is a complete idiot for allowing this to happen. It beggars belief!!

  14. Colin

    I’m livid. I actually livid with some of the comments. Howson is our Captain and some of these comments shouldn’t be said. He doesn’t ‘go missing’. Yesterday, the team went ‘missing.’ That’s not Howson’s fault. Grayson’s perhaps, but not Howson’s.

    What we all want is to get promoted and that means that we need stability, we need our team intact and it starts with the Captain. He’s Captain for a reason. If we get promoted this season and keep these players and this manager, then we have a good chance of staying up – forget Man Utd, we’ve got plenty of players who can match PL Norwich. They’re 9th.

    Howson was statistically our best player last season (proved by Actim Index stats). How much would a Howson replacement cost us in the PL? £5m? £8m? Did anyone see what he did against Doncaster? He was immense. Was he missing then? 

    He’s consistently played out of position. He’s not a defensive or central midfielder, he’s an attacking midfielder or a forward behind the front man. Yet he still does a damn fine job. Does anyone look at the mileage that he covers on the pitch. This is a player who was physically sick on the pitch because he worked so hard.

    I don’t mind players missing open goals or making mistakes, but I won’t stand for players not working hard for the shirt. You can NEVER EVER throw that accusation at Howson and by saying he goes missing, that seems to suggest that he’s not giving it 100%. I don’t mind people saying he’s not good enough (I’ll disagree vehemently btw), but I won’t entertain that he isn’t giving it his all. Because of that he’s the Captain.

    Howson hasn’t asked to leave, he just wants to be at Leeds and want a decent contract. He deserves it. He got 10 goals in the Championship last season when he was allowed (occasionally) to get forward. Now he’s stuck in central midfield. 

    He’s a class act and Grayson’s tactics (perhaps forced on him – I think Grayson expected more of Brown to be honest) doesn’t get the best out of Howson but he still does a damn fine job.

    If we lose Howson, then I despair. He should be the Captain for the next 10 seasons. And they should be in the Premier League.

    To all the Howson haters, I say bring it on. I’m ready to discuss, and I’m ready to shoot you down. Am I angry? Yes.

    • irving08

      This tendency to polarise – rise above it. Some people politely ask questions and, in your eyes, they are ‘haters’. If I understand you correctly, you think that the team’s formation should be governed by whatever makes best use of Howson. That is a perfectly valid point of view, but so too are views to the contrary, which no less than yours, can adduce evidence in their support. Now, on yesterday’s match, it is absurd to say the team went missing, but watching the game it would be hard to tell that we had a captain. In a way, this is indicative of an excellent team spirit, yet there are occasions – like yesterday after the substitiions – when the opposing team senses a depletion in our ranks, that require of the captain that he rally the troops…..   

      • Colin

        If you’re saying that Howson was poor, then that’s fine. But you’ve already identified the problem – the substitutions. They were wrong substitutions and an error by the manager. Not Howson. What’s he meant to say as Captain to Varynen, Forssell and Becchio? – “You’re not doing your job – work as hard as Snodgrass, Keogh and McCormack” Is he meant to talk to Pugh and Clayton and say “Varynen, Forsell and Becchio are shit so we have to work much harder?”
        He can’t win, can he? He can’t say those things.

        Simple fact, Grayson thought the game was won. It wasn’t. Coventry equalised. Grayson should never have made those substitutions. Grayson’s error, not Jonny’s.

      • Irving08

        No, I don’t think Howson was or is poor; he just has a tendency to admire his own work. This is not a good trait for a captain. He is just not leadership material.

      • Matthew

        To be fair he’s a young Captain at only 23 years of age, lots of scope for improvement, just look at Johnson at Norwich, if anything thats down to better quality coaching but still.

  15. Matthew

    Technically Howson is nothing like Gradel or Beckford.

    Beckford went because he supposidly wanted to play in a higher level of football but actually just wanted the money (Greedy fker).

    Gradel went for obvious reasons(Personal).

    Howson sounds like he just wants this club to go somewhere, I don’t think he’s in it for the money but actually wants to  be at a club with ambition to go up.

    Anyway yesterday was just poor, if we play like that against Peterborough, Cardiff and Birmingham we’l end up with 3 losses and 0 points.

  16. Anonymous

    howson will stay if we go up if we don’t he will go its simple as that …
    Or is it
    no its not because if he doesn’t sign  by Jan, leeds can not and should not take a punt on the gamble of going up he will have to be sold for £££££££££££££££££..

    johnny howson is no different to all the rest of our or any other clubs players he wants more dosh ,he wants to play at the top and for his country ,so that rules out Blackburn on all fronts
    there ,but anyway where was i ,ah yes howson he will not sign i do not think he will gamble on leeds getting up or that leeds sell him in January either way he gets an excuse to go ..
    at least the latest ones to sign now are signing longer i do think Clayton will sign however and be the captain when howson leaves

    • Anonymous

      just thought i would add
      i personally as i have said before do not think howson will ply his trade in the top flight.
      i like him ,he is good for us, but a week in week out prem player he isn’t I M O .
      i could see him at a wolves ,W B A, villa or some where else other than the midlands but not playing every week

      • Colin

        I personally rate PL 8th place Villa and they have as midfield regulars, Delph and Bannan in their midfield. Is Howson as good as them? Yes. If I was Villa, I’d throw a cheeky bid in for Howson. 

        Jonny Howson would walk into the Aston Villa first team, and that’s a much better first team than Leeds United.

      • Paul

        Howson as good as Delph!?!? Is he fuckers like – silly cunt!

    • Matthew

      Speaking honestly I think Howson will extend his contract, if only because he loves the club, is the Captain, has a good relationship with the club, and just wants to see ambition.

    • Matthew

      You’re taking his words too literally, he wants what the fans want, to have a consistant performance to our games to win games and do well, not to do crappy draws, or losses that we could of actually turned around to a win had we played better.

      I see nothing in his statements that suggests he wants to leave, if anything he wants Leeds in the Premier league and wants the performances to get us there, he’s been with Leeds for what 5 years now? The guy just wants to be in a team with a winning mentality.

      Not one to question your opinions but I honestly don’t see anything negative in hus comments, if you want to point some out to me then feel free.

  17. Pete Sasqwax

    since the slide from Champions League, then the Premiership etc. I have to admit that I’ve become less panic-stricken with these kinds of stories as I’ve come to expect them (and not just the rumours of exits either, as we’re all too aware) but panic when (or rather, if) it happens. If Jonny goes, I wish him all the best and I hope he fulfils his potential. He’s a great player and one for whom I have a huge amount of time. We’re not remotely in a position right now to be able to imagine that we can compete with the ambition of top premiership sides any time soon & playing careers are often short. If Jonny does leave, Nunez will step up. If Nunez leaves, somebody else will fill the void etc. It would hurt more with him being a Leeds lad & a Leeds fan, but I take nothing for granted these days & therefore remain ever positive.

    The changes we’ve seen in the side since shifting Lees to CB, bringing Conolly in at RB and Pugh at LM have been hugely significant. We now look like we have an understanding of how to defend (most of the time) and should always be able to score more than we concede, thanks to the incredible array of attacking talent we have (being able to leave Becchio & Forsell on the bench with Somma still to come back into contention is pretty much as good as it gets in this league!)

    I hope he sees out all his playing days as a Leeds player & as a Leeds captain but if he doesn’t, another local hero will emerge.

    C’est la vie

    and for good measure:

    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose

    • derbyshirewhite

      I guess if Arsenal can sell their young captain so can we. The worrying thought is the effect that has on the other players, such as Snodgrass, who might think we’ve little chance of PL football any time soon and prepare to queue at the exit door.

  18. richard

    cant say i agree with the thought that we’ve lost quality over the transfer period. lonergan is class, keogh up front is exactly what we need and the only player who left who would have added to the team this season is gradel i think

  19. Heats

    No matter how loyal someone is you can’t really knock them for wanting to play in the Premiership, arguably the best league in the world!! I don’t think he will leave until his work here is done and i honestly don’t think that the decision on his contract will have anything to do with Bates.

    We need to stop singing about getting Bates out when we concede in the last minute and get behind the lads and show support. We’re making a profit for the first time in a while and although we have’nt exactly spent gazillions on player this summer we’ve made good signings in Keogh and Lonergan. Plus Adam Clayton was questioned last year and look at him now, he’s playing class!

  20. oldschoolbaby

    If Mr Howson thinks Blackburn or Bolton are a better career move than Leeds he shouldn`t be captaining a pedalo.

    He would like more money. Wouldn`t we all. Can`t blame him for tickling Ken`s tummy.

    Meanwhile, in the big world, there are bizarre ideas emerging to make the PL a closed shop. And the scouse bastards are trying to unilaterally sell TV rights. This is not just naked self interest, it is a very good indication that a number of clubs are absolutely terrified of the amount of debt they carry.

    The banks were bailed out in 2008 but there is a growing school of thought that action just postponed the agony for another day. The appetite for bailing out any type of institution/ organisation is diminishing quickly. Before long a big football club will go pop

    Footballers wages are the biggest factor dragging down football. If Mr Howson is entitled to ask for more, Mr Bates is equally entitled to suck his dentures and tell him he doesn`t want to pay any more

    There are any number of Chairmen of football clubs wishing they had Bates`s kahunas.

    I am engaging in some advocacy for the devil here as Bates is not my cup of tea but if he`s to be believed and Leeds owe nothing to the banks. And if he`s at the forefront of controlling the masive and threatening problem of inflated players wages then, occasionally he deserves a Werthers Original and half a pint of stout

  21. Banditsteve123

    All the people that keep shouting that howson has to stay are they the same people calling for him to be dropped,so far this season you can count on one hand how many good games he has,midfield is not his position playing behind the striker is now that is the problem the only way out is play keogh up front with mcCormack left snoddy right howson just behind then play clayton and pugh sitting

  22. The Knight

    Howson’s contract probably should have been resolved earlier. However I think he would probably struggle in the Premiership and we don’t know if Howson’s salary demands are unreasonable. As a general point whilst Bates goes to the other extreme in terms of his reluctance to tie down players with long contracts we certainly don’t want to return to the lunacy of Ridsdale where all players were given generous 5 year contracts which we couldn’t afford.


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