By George & Tom Chellis
It doesn’t take a die-hard fan to point out that scoring goals is the main problem that faces an under-performing Leeds squad. The Whites have scored just 10 league goals so far this season and the United faithful have taken to social media to voice their concern about the lack of an out-and-out goal scorer. As a result, twitter buzz has been building apace about two former United front men who could guide us out of our rut. Rumours are circulating that former striker Davide Somma is back training with the squad after his release over the summer, and he is one of the primary names on the lips of the fans as countless hours are spent trying to find a solution to our poor finishing. There are other options, and with Luciano Becchio looking for a move away from Carrow Rd after falling down the pecking order, many see the Argentine as the answer to our problems. We decided to take the time to compare these two former fan favourites against each other as well as against the current crop of under-performing strikers.
If we put to one side an ongoing battle against long term injuries, Somma was fairly prolific during his time at Elland Rd. The South African made 39 appearances for the club, scoring 13 goals and quickly became a favourite amongst the fans. After a bright start, he spent much of his time on the physio table and, following repeated setbacks in his recovery, he was often used as a substitute, scoring 7 of his goals off the bench. Many feel however that he was underused by Grayson - at the time, Leeds tactics provided a polar opposite to the beautiful game, attempting to counteract our sieve-like defence by bombarding the opposition’s goal. Grayson did not trust that he was capable of holding up the ball as our attacking linchpin and as a consequence his chances were partly reduced. Scoring 2 braces, and a goals-per-game ratio of 0.33, Somma was certainly comfortable in front of goal. Having said this, statistics don’t tell the whole story in this case. Again due to injury, Somma is relatively untested at Championship level and throwing him into the mix this season may prove a challenge too far against a crop of clubs whose starting XIs feature a plentiful supply of ex-Premier League goalscorers. Furthermore, Somma has once again spent much of the last two seasons injured and consequently will most likely struggle with the pace of the matches and the challenging fixture list. Unfortunately for him, it may be unrealistic to suggest that he will ever be the player he once was, and his chronic knee injuries will undoubtedly continue to haunt him. Leeds fans must be realistic however – only two players have found the net on more than one occasion in the league this season (McCormack 4, Varney 2) and so, at this stage, no-one could argue against McDermott taking a gamble on him.
Luciano Becchio is the other former United striker that both the manager and the fans have expressed an interesting in bringing back to the club. It is safe to say that Becchio’s time at Norwich has stunted his career progression, yet to make an appearance in the league this season. The arrivals of Van Wolfswinkel, Elmander and Hooper have reduced his chances further and, with Norwich back on their feet after a shaky start, Becchio’s chances of breaking into the line-up look slim. Chris Hughton may not rate Becchio as a Premier League striker, but his stats during an illustrious spell at a lower level with United are impressive. Scoring 86 goals in 221 appearances, Becchio had been the focal point of the attack since his arrival in 2008, but it was the 2012-13 season that caught the attention of a number of high profile clubs. Becchio scored 19 goals in the first half of the season, a contribution that kept us within touching distance of a promotion push. He scored 8 braces with a goals-to-game ratio of 0.39, so it is clear that Becchio’s stats make him a viable option for any Championship club in need of a reliable front man. Despite his tumultuous relationship with
Hughton, the Norwich boss is unwilling to let him leave and so nostalgic fans may have to wait a little longer for the return of a player some regard as a Leeds United hero.
At this stage of the season, both Somma and Becchio seem credible solutions to our miserable form in front of goal. However, in our opinion, fresh blood is the answer. Cruel though it may seem, Somma’s best goal-scoring form is behind him and resting our promotion hopes on an injury-prone and untested striker is foolish and signals a clear lack of ambition. Unlike Somma, Becchio could be a suitable option should we find a way to convince Hughton to release him – there is little doubt that his return would be welcomed by large percentage of the Leeds fans. Furthermore, we feel that the introduction of a new (or in the case of Becchio and Somma, old) striker is not the miracle fix solution. The service continues to be lacklustre, and so the acquisition of at least one winger should remain equally high on the list of McDermott’s priorities. In any case, change must come, and soon or our promotion push may become permanently derailed.