By Rob Atkinson
After all the fuss and speculation which has raged around Leeds United's transfer policy, seemingly forever, today we finally have a new man into the club with every indication that another addition is imminent.
Dexter Blackstock, the man with the name straight out of film noir, has joined the club on an initial three month loan deal, the term expiring on January 25th. It is reported though that the deal could be extended to the end of the season - if things go well
Reaction among Leeds fans could best be described as "mixed". There are those who are diving straight for the stats book and then pressing the panic button because of Blackstock's average scoring record. Others feel that he's the kind of tall, mobile striker that could cause problems in the opposition area and create more chances for the team as a whole, as well as contributing a few himself - even if he's not the most prolific. Yet Blackstock's overall record of 83 goals in 306 career appearances is respectable enough; it may well be that this is a player who needs a change of scene in order to get him firing.
I cautiously tend towards a positive point of view and expect that the lad will have something to offer Leeds for however long he's with us. Judgement should really be reserved anyway - this signing comes at a time when all the signs indicate that Brian McDermott has decided to give the 3-5-2 wing-backs formation, so devastating against an admittedly inept Birmingham side last weekend, an extended go. This might mean a reappraisal of the existing staff will be taking place as well as an assessment of what any new attacking influence might contribute.
It was quite clear on Sunday that there was suddenly much more potential to cause damage up front than we had offered up to that point, much better supply from wide areas. It remains to be seen whether the likes of Varney and Hunt would thrive in that team shape, but they will surely get their chance - presumably the development squad will also be playing three at the back for the duration of the arrangement with the first team. In any event, the addition of another striker though can only increase the sense of competition for the two main striking roles, and that's got to be a good thing.
The other thing about 3-5-2 is the need to have enough central defenders of sufficient quality and this is where ex-Hearts skipper Marius Žaliūkas may well come in, especially with the news that teenager Ross Killock has gone on loan to Chester. This Lithuanian international is a man with some pedigree who could add a decent slice of quality to our existing defensive resources, as well as being a positive influence - give or take his lurid disciplinary record - on our younger central defenders. The deal is described as "close" on the Official site, so it's highly probable he'll be coming in. If Žaliūkas does sign then, on top of the capture of Blackstock who sounds to be champing at the bit, it will have been a very good week for Leeds United, starting as it did with a long-overdue comfortable victory, the type of sweet experience we'd all but forgotten.
The Birmingham win may well turn out to have been the type of turning point in our season that beating West Ham was for Reading a few years back, when McDermott's side suddenly threw off a shaky start to the season and stormed to the title. To think that might happen for Leeds United is surely the wildest of optimistic dreams - but you just never know. It is, after all, a funny old game.