Matt Smith to Kick On for Leeds United Next Season – by Rob Atkinson

Matt Smith - massive potential

Matt Smith – massive potential

It tended to get slightly lost amongst all the hype and hyperbole surrounding Ross McCormack’s 29 goal annus mirabilis – but Matt Smith, last summer’s signing from Oldham, had a quiet little miracle year of his own last season, though used sparingly – as often off the bench as a starter – but to what stunning effect.

The bare facts of Smith’s first season at Elland Road are that he made 20 league starts, 19 appearances as a sub and scored 13 goals.  Even if you lumped the sub and starting appearances together to get 13 goals from 39 games, that represents only just under one goal every three games – no mean feat for a player equipped to act predominantly as a target man, providing flick-ons and knock-downs for smaller and nippier strikers.  The other factor, of course, is that this was Smith’s first season at Championship level and therefore a decided learning curve.  And he did learn – you could see it happening.  As the season progressed, he gained in confidence and know-how, becoming a more effective performer the more games he got under his belt.

Playing with (nominally) better players must have been of assistance to the lanky forward as well, but it should be remembered that Matt Smith was performing well in a team that, generally, under-performed and frequently struggled. There were glaring functional deficiencies in the Leeds United team unit, for the whole duration of the campaign.  Service from the wings – the meat and drink of any tall striker – was sporadic and disappointing, the loan signings of Kebe and Stewart being, by common consent, failures. There were times as well that the whole team looked shapeless and clueless, and Smith especially was frequently called upon from the bench to provide a Plan B for a side that had shot its bolt and was floundering horribly – this happened on far too many occasions last year.

Apart from that one notorious lapse at Sheffield Wednesday, when Smith came on as the obvious remedy to an appalling first-half display – only to be sent off after sixty or so seconds – the former Oldham forward generally made as much of an impact late on in games as might be expected, particularly given his inexperience and the pressure of performing for a club like Leeds, a pressure that saw some of his club-mates, notably Noel Hunt, fail to make any real impact.

Based on what we saw of him last season – and subject to any further signings yet to be made in the forward areas – I would expect to see Matt Smith build on a highly promising first season and look to secure for himself a regular starting berth, perhaps as part of a “Little & Large” up-front pairing. Even if the recruitment drive heralds the arrival of more forwards at the club, I’m convinced that Smith will play his part – the improvement in his game throughout last season gives ample cause for such optimism, and the fact that Premier League Crystal Palace came sniffing around speaks volumes for his potential too. It should be remembered as a fact of some significance that, only the season before he joined Leeds, Smith gave the Liverpool defence a terrible time in an FA Cup tie at Boundary Park, scoring twice as the Reds were knocked out by three goals to two.

Matt Smith can be the type of forward that any defence will simply hate playing against.  He is blessed with the height and physique which will enable him to bully defenders, imposing his game on them, roughing them up and getting his head to the ball as often as possible.  He just needs to be that crucial bit wilier, so as to concede fewer free kicks when refs feel he’s being a little too combative – but that will come with experience.  He is a good finisher, surprisingly adept on the floor for such a tall guy – and he has that attitude, a bit of a mean streak, which so endears any player in a white shirt to the demanding fans at Elland Road. We do love a trier, someone who wears his heart on his sleeve.  Matt Smith has those qualities, and he will have learned much from his on-field partnership with Ross McCormack. But the Scot is gone now, and Smith will have to work with new partners and, perhaps, be a little more selfish, looking to create and take chances for himself.

The King is dead – long live King Matt?  It would not surprise me at all.

29 responses to “Matt Smith to Kick On for Leeds United Next Season – by Rob Atkinson

  1. I. Believe that Matt Smith could be our new leading goal scorer. This is what happened when Becchio left and Ross started to get a full game. Ross,s average was a goal every third game that is because he was a sub for nearly three seasons. So come smithy show what you can do.As you have already said Rob all we want is for the players to give their all. MOT.


  2. Hi Rob ,a step up in class last season wil stand him in good stead.With new forwards coming in ,he’ll have to fight for his place and like you said being more selfish and getting that killer instinct will improve if he is given his chance…..MOT


  3. Spot on Post Rob i agree with you wholeheartedly, I have always liked the guy and as you say he’s good on the floor for a big guy and I am sure with the right supply from the wings he will be a real handful for many defenses, he an intelligent guy and i think he rise to the challenge ( no Pun intended) hope the lad Mcdaid is all he is meant to be (another Beckford? but not as lazy) the Loss of Ross doesn’t worry me we got Good Money for a guy who obviously wanted to leave and like many before thinks the Grass is greener … only time will tell but we have seen many times before throwing pots of Money to buy players doesn’t always get you promoted … as always before the start of a new season I feel optimistic ….. lets hope it lasts :0)


  4. I think Matt smith had a good season last year and see no reason why he can’t hit the 20 goal mark next season , in recent hostory we’ve seen our strikers go and the feeling of who will fill the void , Ross Mc got his turn and Matt smith will now see this as an opportunity to shine , if cellino can find him a good partner then I for one will be looking forward to next season


  5. AllWhiteNow

    Totally agree Rob – Matt Smith could be the next Lee Chapman [137 apps – 62 goals] and a strike ratio approaching that man will do us all a power of good. Here’s hoping we get some wingers to service his talent. MOT


  6. will be pleased to see a good striker signed but would Polion not be a good partner?


    • A lot of people seem to want to see Poleon tried out wide, which might be interesting. As for striking options – I think we’ll see more of and better from Hunt this season. McCormack going might be the best thing for him. He’s NOT a bad player!


      • Think hunt will be off, we only signed him because he’s Brians mate. The 2 Italians they keep looking can’t be worse.


  7. yes agree rob, great in the air , once he starts using the channels better and laying off balls with his chest and moving, ie like mark hateley and other big strikers he ll be very good as he does have a good shot and turn for a big man.,


    • Please god he turns out better than Mark Hately. A lot of the players need an arm around the shoulder . No, maybe a kick up the arse. Hunt being one of them. Cellino won’t beat around the bush with these lot and no matter if you like him or not that certainly is a breath of fresh air. . .


  8. im really wanting austin to get his passing together and start playing the easy balls cos what a good tackler and tough player he is he can be our top defensive midfielder key man if he stops them stupid bloody 40 yard passes which usually end up with the opposition or in the west stand, win the ball play it easy keep poccession, ie germans last night easy passes deep in midfield not losing the ball 5 passes later bang 7 times, austin can do this but always goes for the 40 yarder or shoots from 50 yards , yes get up for corners edge of the box and have a blast but keep it simple 10 yard passes after he s won the ball and were laughing,


    • I think the first choices in central midfield will be bianchi & murphy. Reading up on bianchi he seems more your number 4 type player, although he can play left midfield also.


  9. What ever happened to the Italian lad that came over In january, but we couldnt play him because of something or other to do with the transfer window?

    Mc dermot talked him up as a good player


  10. Mike Durham

    Couldn’t agree more Rob ; Smithy will come on leaps and bounds this season. THere is just one thing that worries me a tad…now RM’s gone, who will miss our penalties???


  11. Blimey Rob for a minute then I thought I was reading an article about Ray Hankin! Similarities are many! (Am I showing my age now!). I hope he does turn out to be the best player Redditch United have produced!


  12. RoystonLUFC

    slightly off-topic, but Robin Scum Persie is out the world cup, are there any other scum players left amongst Argentina and Germany? I’m just trying to decide which, if any, team I should support in the final.


  13. Pingback: Leeds United Blog Takes Bibulous Birthday Break Courtesy of Generous Readership – by Rob Atkinson | Life, Leeds United, the Universe & Everything

  14. Welcome to Millwall Matt Smith.


  15. Is that the lad that used to play for Oldham? I’ve only seen him play once in that cup game against Everton? I think they may have showed the Libpool game too. He looked a really decent player with a bit of pace/ good at holding the ball up, an eye for goal and can arrive late in the box. Keep a hold of him- he will get you twenty league goals next season with a decent player along side him and a couple of decent wingers. I know that to give him that type of pitch would normally depend on seeing a player a lot more than once but he looked a bit of a throw back to the days of the big old centre forward- a Duncan Ferguson type possibly- or have I got the wrong player here? lol.


    • That’s him mate – I actually thought about the Big Dunc comparison when I wrote it, but that seemed a bit presumptuous lol – so I settled for him being a potential Crouch 😉


  16. I’m gonna keep an eye out for him this season as I haven’t seen anywhere near enough of him to make a realistic judgement, but my gut feeling is that he’s the type of player that will do really well in the championship which is a lot more physical than the prem. I think it will suit him down to the ground and an injury free season will net him 20 league goals- that’s my prediction. you heard it here first, lol


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