By Rob Atkinson
Yesterday I wrote an article about Leeds United being linked with Celtic's Anthony Stokes, a rumour which - I think I made it clear - I'm not at all happy with. There were two planks to my argument against the recruitment of Mr Stokes - firstly that he's not very good, having failed to pull up any trees south of the border (he's done better up in Scotland, but quite frankly my Gran could score for fun up there and she's been dead for 21 years) - and secondly that he doesn't appear to be the nicest of chaps, with various indiscretions laid at his door, including the alleged nutting of a hapless Elvis impersonator.
Today was another day, and it has brought another none-too-tasty rumour. This one I find more palatable on the grounds of ability, but possibly even less so where personal conduct is concerned Marlon King. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The lad can play a bit, and even at the ripe old age of 33, it's likely that he could be relied upon to give most Championship defences a thing or two to think about. He's done the business at this level for quite a few clubs - one notable failure being a loan spell at Leeds, but at that time he was played out of position by the famously clueless Kevin Blackwell, so it was hardly a surprise that he ended up goal-less.
So, on the grounds of ability and scoring potential, and especially for free, this seems a potentially good signing. But there is a flip-side to Marlon's coin, and that is his conviction in 2009 for sexual assault and ABH whilst on the books of Wigan Athletic, offences for which he received an 18 month sentence. It was also alleged that King had headbutted Dean Windass whilst at Hull City on loan, though this is not a crime which would necessarily alienate him as far as Leeds supporters are concerned. But the fact that Mr King has 14 convictions on his record since 1997 is doubtless a concern to Leeds United or any other club thinking of taking a punt on him. The rumour I saw today was on a Birmingham City fan site, and the responses from Leeds fans were not entirely positive. We've had our bad boys in the past, of course - Bowyer and Woodgate are particularly unedifying examples - but King appears to be a repeat offender at least in terms of getting on the wrong side of the law. Some of his transgressions are much worse than others, though, and a record which includes a sexual assault conviction is a severe drawback to say the very least.
The fact remains though that King seems to have settled down somewhat since leaving jail on the more recent of two occasions. He has served Birmingham well, and he does retain the knack of scoring goals at second tier level. Worryingly though, he has been arrested and bailed yet again as recently as April this year after a car crash which left one man severely injured.
On balance, I feel that this would not be an ideal signing for Leeds United, though I'm not quite as emphatically of that opinion as I was with the Stokes rumour. If that leaves me open to a charge of putting on-field ability ahead of off-field misdemeanours and convictions, then - well, gulty, m'Lud. King will end up wearing some club's shirt next season, and quite probably in the Championship. If push comes to shove, I'd rather see him scoring goals for Leeds than against us, but overall I'm hardly impressed by the standard of striker tipped to be joining us down at LS11 for the new campaign. Can we have some better quality rumours, please?