By Steve Barras
It’s that time of the season again, the January transfer window and I have a sneaky feeling that once the new years celebrations have all but been forgotten and we drag ourselves screaming into February 2014 we will be a much happier set of football fans. Theoretically we will have new majority owners and four new faces in the squad, hopefully a few of the dead weights will also have left Elland Road but we can’t ask for too much…can we?
Talking of dead weights, who would you like to go in January? For me there are a few but I doubt we could get rid of them all, mostly they would hang on for their wage packets rather than take pay cuts and actually do what they are paid for, which is play football.
The obvious one’s for me are David Norris, Paul Green, Luke Varney, Michael Brown, Adam Drury and the one name that isn’t quite as obvious but the speculation about him leaving is causing as much controversy as he did when he joined the club, El-Hadji Diouf. Danny Pugh would have been on that list as well but his current form must mean a stay of execution…at least until the end of the season. Six faces gone if this was Fantasy Football, unfortunately I can foresee two, possibly three leaving in January.
Now this proposed takeover by David Hague and co. is apparently going to leave us in a very healthy position to strengthen the playing staff in LS11 and Mr McDermott has already handed Mr Haigh a list with four names on it. I personally feel we need five but I am not Brian and we have got to trust his judgement because…well…we haven’t really got a choice.
Firstly we are crying out for a striker to help Ross (18 Goals) McCormack, Matt Smith is doing his best bless him, but we need a striker that can use his feet as well as his head. We don’t need a journeyman striker in the shape of Noel Hunt or a headless sheep like Dominic Poleon, I personally would plump for Nahki Wells, the Bradford striker has scored 15 goals this season in League 1 and has scored 42 goals in 91 appearances altogether for his current team.
Secondly we NEED wingers. I know Max Gradel has been much touted about and yes I would love to have him back but as it is a World Cup year and as much as it hurts to say it, he would be dropping down in stature to play for us again. So lets look at the alternatives. Stevenage winger Luke Freeman could be a good acquisition, the highly rated 21 year old has already been told that he may be leaving in January because Stevenage are enduring some financial difficulties. Another winger who was attracting some attention in the summer was Gary Mackay-Steven and McDermott has, if rumours are to be believed, already made his interest in the player known to his club, Dundee United.
The contentious part of this piece is deciding which position makes up the final four, I have heard calls for a new keeper, a new central defender and a new central midfielder. I say leave the midfield alone, after the wingers come in of course. Even if the deadwood leaves in January that still leaves us with Luke Murphy, Rodolph Austin, Alex Mowatt and Michael Tonge but we also have the likes of Chris Dawson and Zac Thompson waiting in the wings. Midfield is sorted and I think the defence is likewise. The addition of Marius Zaliukas has steadied the ship somewhat and I firmly believe that Tom Lees will become a mainstay of our defence even if we reach the Premier League at the end of this season. With the addition of wingers I think McDermott will go back to a flat back four leaving Jason Pearce and Scott Wootton as back-up.
This leaves the goalkeeping jersey which is currently being occupied by Alex Cairns. Paddy Kenny is our undisputed number 1 at the moment but he isn’t getting any younger and I know little about Cairns except that he is a product of our youth system and he came on for Paul Rachubka in THAT game. I fully believe in our youth set-up as anybody would with the talent that has rolled off it in recent years but even if Cairns turns out to be the next Paul Robinson then we would need a keeper to push him on when Paddy retires and when Jamie Ashdown inevitably leaves the club when his contract runs out in the summer. I have to admit I know little about keepers apart from the obvious and I doubt Joe Hart or Jack Butland would want to come and play for Leeds at the moment so I would have to leave that in the hands of the boss, even though I did, once, have a funny feeling that Alex Smithies would one day play for Leeds.
So after all my rambling we come to the question that is at the top, Will silly season result in a Promotion push? With Wells, Freeman, Mackay-Steven and an extra keeper on the books I really don’t see why not.