By Rob Atkinson
It's been a whirlwind twenty-four hours for Leeds fans. A body of support which had grown moribund on a relentless diet of pessimism and discouragement has suddenly had the equivalent of a million volts pumped through it. The twin news stories of boardroom changes (the good sort) AND a possible seven-figure signing, the first since 2005, have acted like the proverbial bolt of electricity on Frankenstein's monster, or a major injection of caffeine to revive a comatose model of apathy. Good news? At Leeds United?? You're kidding me. Hmmmm, where's the catch?
There may yet be a catch, of course. Things rarely turn about so positively, so fast or so completely down at LS11. The last time we signed a player for over a million ponds, it was Richard Cresswell in 2005. We weren't that long out of the Premier League, and the memory of being big fish in the transfer pond was vivid to us then. Now though, it seems like another lifetime, with a succession of loans and freebies making up the bulk of the playing staff over the last eight years. And yet the news today - Day One of the post-Bates era - is that Luke Murphy, a highly-coveted, richly-promising young midfielder from that cradle of emerging talent Crewe Alexandra, may be signing for Leeds United for a fee in excess of one million pounds. So what next? More signings in the same vein, as Brian McDermott builds a squad to his own liking? Or will it be a case of "after the feast comes the reckoning"?
The cynics - and I'm normally of that brotherhood - will immediately raise the spectre of outgoings to "free up money" for this apparent incoming. Sam Byram's name will be on many lips - surely a done deal for the sale of our boy wonder is what's behind this sudden flash of transfer market confidence? There's been a whisper also of a bid around a million being accepted for Ross McCormack, the deal failing to materialise only because the player himself didn't fancy the move.
Whatever the case, Bates being gone and the strong hint of a richly-talented passing midfielder coming in for actual money - that's heady stuff for long-suffering Leeds fans. We'll have to see whether the summer carries on in this new and unfamiliar, upbeat direction - or whether we're all about to be brought back down to earth again with an almighty bump, as normally happens. Meanwhile, it's good to see virtual smiles on virtual faces in the Leeds United web-world; long may it continue. If the new regime at Elland Road wanted to start the Bates-less epoch at Leeds United by hitting the ground running, they've certainly managed it - just by the increased quality of the rumours.
If this trend continues, then the next couple of weeks might just be very interesting indeed.