Wolves 2, Leeds United 3
Sam Byram is already a very good footballer as well as a tolerably wealthy young man. These twin attributes should see him able to set himself up for life by the time those distant days of his mid-thirties are upon him. Given ordinary luck, he will then be able to look back upon a long and successful career with the security of a good few million in his Post Office Savings Account. All of which means that the contract decision he is now in the process of making is unlikely to have major long-term financial implications. What Byram really needs to consider is where best to spend the next few, still formative, years of his football education. And, despite the lure of fatter contracts elsewhere, it may well be that those long-term interests will be best served by remaining at Elland Road for the immediate future at least.
The wisdom of this could be illustrated by considering the differing fates of those who have previously struck out along the path to fame, fortune and some Premier League giant’s reserve side, as opposed to the more cautious types who stuck with their club of origin until a degree of maturity grew about them. There’s no hard and fast rule here, and no real need to name names. But let’s do so anyway – take the example of our own Gary Speed, who stayed with Leeds and built a firm foundation for a lengthy career that now sees him venerated as a legend, a status that owes little if anything to his tragic early death. Speed enjoyed the fruits of success at several other top-flight clubs after putting in the years at Leeds, not incidentally picking up a Title-winner’s medal while he was here. His mark on the game was made indelibly before he secured a move to his boyhood heroes Everton.
Consider also the case of Aaron Lennon, a teen speed machine at Leeds who was sold early to Spurs when the Ridsdale house of cards came tumbling down. It was crisis time at Leeds, and Lennon’s move to London was inevitable – but if he’d had the chance to follow Gary Speed’s example, might he not have made slightly more of an impression later on in his career? There is the air of potential not quite fulfilled about Lennon – and who knows what a few more years in his formative environment might have done for him? No matter, you might say – he’s still loaded and made for life. But, even today, football is not all about money. Byram will wind up extremely wealthy whatever path he takes, barring some unforeseen misfortune. Short term financial gain should, perhaps, take second place to his prospects of securing for himself a place in football history.
This was really the theme of United manager Steve Evans‘ post-match remarks after United’s 3-2 success at Wolves, in which Byram returned to the starting line-up and scored twice. If the lad wants to stay and play for a club and manager that appreciates him, earning “decent money”, then he’ll have a chance of being part of whatever Evans and Leeds can achieve over the next few years. “We’re trying to build something here”, says Evans – and as we all know, if you build something at Leeds United, then the world sits up and takes notice.
Byram’s choice is not really about money at all – it’s about how best to ensure the game will remember him after his playing days are over. Terrific prospect though he is, it’s quite possible that Leeds could be the biggest club Byram ever plays for. Where else might he end up? Norwich, like Jonny Howson? Hull, like Rob Snodgrass?
For all but the very best, the only way from Elland Road is down, whatever the league tables might temporarily say. And it will be a few years yet before we can say with any certainty whether Byram is out of that very top drawer. If he is, then he might have his choice of big clubs in his mid-twenties, at home or abroad. The sky could be the limit. And if he’s not – well, then, he might be ushered out of Leeds United anyway. Better, surely, to stay with an indisputably massive football institution while he can, buckle down and learn the rest of his trade – and see where the journey takes both himself and the club. Byram has the luxury of time and an enviable situation. He must be sure not to fritter either away.
This blog is on record as stating more than once that Sam Byram is not indispensable as far as Leeds and their battle to achieve top-flight status are concerned. I stand by that. If the club can get decent money for Sam – and reinvest it – then the loss of one precocious talent need not prevent the club returning to its natural level. And even if he were to go for a song – the club is still bigger than any one talent. Leeds will be back anyway, sooner or later.
It is probably fair to argue, as this article has set out to do, that Byram needs Leeds more than Leeds United needs Sam Byram – certainly at this point in his development. A few years on, the shoe might very well be on the other foot. Who knows? But, for the time being, Sam’s best bet could be to put pen to paper, get on with his work – and do his best to reward the fans who have supported him so well and with such pride thus far in his fledgling career.
Do yourself a favour, Sam. Put your own best interests first. Stay at Leeds United, stay true to your roots – and help restore a true giant of the game back to its proper place. Deep down, mere considerations of pounds and pence notwithstanding, you must know it makes sense.
To be fair Rob would you want to stay after what his boss said about him,
we all want Sam with us but you have to look at the whole picture,
There is that, but there’s also compelling reasons for the lad to stay, which I’ve tried to highlight – it’s a tough world, and you can’t be too precious about what people say now and then.
One attribute a footballer should have but not many do is to have an extremely thick skin with regards to criticism. How often do you see a comment about a player going from hero to zero in the same game.
I would like to add that it is fair comment about players going to a “bigger” club for a big pay rise……and then they disappear from view within a season or two never to be heard about again. One really big player who did this comes to mind…..Nigel Clough. Was an England international and doing well until he got a transfer to the “Scum”. From that point on he just disappeared from football never to be heard about again. England never select players from reserve teams.
I think it was Liverpool for young Cloughie, but I take your point.
You are right Rob it was Liverpool, a combination of old age and the shirt colour must have confused me.
if i had his talent i would want to see how far it would take me rob , top of the premiership , England call up ? why not..
but that’s not going to happen any time soon at leeds
Great article Rob, as far as I understand Byram is earning twelve grand a week? If that’s the case, he is on 624 grand a year excluding sponsorships and endorsements. At 22 years old he could possibly be earning at least that kind of money at Leeds for another ten years? In that time he has the opportunity to be part of something truly special along with his mates Cook, Mowatt, Taylor et al.
Can you only imagine playing for your hometown club every week, with your mates, in front of fans who love the bones of you and earning that kind of money? I am proud when i watch player interviews and all the Leeds star players have Leeds accents!!! Actually proud doesn’t even cover it.
Sam, it’s clear you love Leeds and YOU ARE LEEDS so please sign the contract….a sign of loyalty (and sense) like this breathes fresh air through the whole city. Come on lad, don’t become another Leeds has been, be another legend. It really is that simple.
The lad is class he has obviously had a lot on his plate … It’s killing him to. Leave or stay if it wasn’t for agents he would stay …. He fully deserved his MotM … This maybe his last hurrah but you could see how much it meant for him scoring for his colours his true colours I wish he would reconsider and Cellino wake up here mate he is worth some more coin maybe we should all sing a rendition of please don’t go on Sunday …. All praise to Mr Evans game change last night first thirty we were on the back foot and lucky not to have been a few more behind but soulyman was outstanding when he came on….and lads lay of silvestre eh he has made some outstanding saves …. For periods we were immense …as jackett. Said we were a powerhouse in parts …. The best is yet to come I was doubtful of Evans and rude about him I apologise fully I think he may well Love Leeds to ….after all it’s infectious isn’t it …….Young Sam !!!!!
so really your saying do you want to be a millionaire and loved at Leeds or a multi millionaire and no one know you Stay Sam for another 3 years and if were still a poor team move on
Evans now has the perfect opportunity to justify an extended run in the team. Barradi Breezer out for 2 months and now Byram is undropable after playing in a winning team. If that is not enough he scored to goals also. When Byram said he wanted to see if he played regularly before signing after his revised contract offer Evans should have been allowed by Cellino to prove that he would always be the first name on the team sheet for a few games and then get him to sign – calling Byram’s bluff. Maybe too much water has gone under the bridge and he is past the point of no return. Cellino’s massive mistake, but you are right, Rob, I agree with everything you said.
Last night showed that it is utter nonsence that he shouldn’t start because ‘he is not fully committed to the club’, he is a good player and a good pro.
I agree with all your comments Rob, at least another year at ER would do much more for his career than Liverpool reserves or Sunderland learning from Wes Brown
As per usual, Rob ‘The Blog’ Atkinson hits the nail squarely on the head and leads me to ask myself why I bother to read other lesser mortals’ blogs.
I want Sam to stay but, if he goes, we will get another right back, whether that one will be a match winner like Sam…….MOT
If Sam “loves the club” then why can’t he agree to an extended contract, with a gentleman’s agreement if the wheels fall off this season then he can go with the clubs blessing?
He would play for his team, and have an out if it fails, also it would mean the vulture teams looking for a bargain would have to pay more as his contract was longer! Also he would get a bigger cut of the larger transfer fee.
Everyone’s a winner, I’m also sure it may appeal ,being slightly dodgy, to our owner!
Not a bad idea, thoughts folks?
STAY SAM STAY, forget Cellino, he’s a prat and with a bit of luck might sod off back to the states.
Delph was another who left too early, spent about 2 years in Villas reserves when he could have been learning his trade in our first team.
The prem will still be there when you’re good enough to start every game whether it’s for Leeds or not. Bench warming for a prem club will do you no good.
A very good point that you make Rob, I hope that Mr Byram reads your article, after all, should he leave, he’ll become a mere SQUAD player with the bigger clubs in the EPL!!
All the best for the festive season
Cheers Phil, and to you and yours also – MOT