Media Moving on from Spygate for Concerted Effort to Sell Leeds Star Jack Clarke – by Rob Atkinson


Leeds United’s Jack Clarke – the poise of the matador

The UK sports media don’t like Leeds United to have nice things. The recent embarrassing emphasis on so-called “Spygate” – the sensational exposé of a man in a tracksuit on a public highway by a wire fence, failing to avert his eyes from the spectacle of some footballers training in plain sight – was of course intended to derail the United promotion bandwagon, but Leeds have still won eight of the last eleven and are clear at the the top. All the hacks have accomplished really is to emphasise their own essential silliness. So – what to do?

Well, it’s transfer window time and, for your average grubby hack with a Leeds-hating readership to satisfy, what better opportunity for the talking up of the latest United wonderkid in the hope of provoking an auction? Such seems to be the mindset of the gutter end of the media right now, not excluding our good friends at Sky, who are positively schizo over Leeds United, simultaneously hating and capitalising on Yorkshire’s number one football club. The current focus is on United’s Jack Clarke, a young wing wizard with that touch of genius about him. The hacks have seen this divine spark, have noted it well – and are determined to bring about his departure from Elland Road at the earliest opportunity.

The stories have cropped up thick and fast – mostly the former, it has to be said – over the past few days. One mischievous rag, conscious of Leeds fans’ lack of regard for Devon’s Finest, have even linked him with Manchester’s second biggest club. Perhaps they feel young Jack would prosper under what they’re selling as the Norwegian reincarnation of Matt Busby, clearly a better mentor than some Argie who sits on a bucket.

Sky were in on the act today as well, playing tempting clips of young Clarke bamboozling full-backs and sticking the ball in the net. It’s all designed to whip up interest from one or other of their favoured clubs because, alas, so far the only enquiries seem to have been  joke ones, from the likes of Crystal Palace and Southampton – hardly the stuff of a young winger’s dreams. Meanwhile, Jack is thriving at Leeds, in and around the first team, contributing solidly to the promotion push, and with the alluring prospect of a fat new contract and maybe a Championship winner’s medal in the offing. For those who wish Leeds ill, namely just about everyone who doesn’t bleed yellow blue and white, these are not good feelings.

Let’s be honest, Jack Clarke at 18 looks to be the real deal. He has that matador’s poise, the ability to play a bewildered defender into hopeless confusion and ultimate defeat. Only the other day, he destroyed the opposing Derby County full-back, who was promptly dispatched to Aberdeen with twisted blood, there to reflect and convalesce, having been replaced at Derby by a pensioner. Clarke has the nascent promise of a youthful Stan Matthews – there’s no deep, dark secret as to how he beats his man. He dances for a moment, in possession of the ball – will the defender sell himself, or just back off, quivering? Then – a drop of the shoulder, a change of pace, and Jack is gone, leaving his man in a crumpled heap, arrowing a deadly ball into the box, and Roofe is there to snap up the chance. Or maybe Clarke swerves back on his path into the box, and curls the ball inside the far post. You just don’t know, although that initial beating of the full back, that’s an open secret. You know how he’ll do that. But, as with Stan Matthews, stopping it is another matter entirely. The media knows all this, and they’re agreed: Clarke must go from Leeds.

But anyone who knows the game will know that Jack Clarke is in the best place he could be, especially at this time of his fledgling career. Quite apart from the material and competitive career rewards dangling in front of him, he’s working with the best coach in Marcelo Bielsa that he could possibly wish for, and in a team that might have been set up specifically to showcase his devastating talent. At eighteen, Clarke needs to be protected from the predatory and kept close to the nurturing influence from which he’s currently benefiting. Jack has the role models right now, in the coaching set up and alongside him in the team, that will give his genius the best chance of emerging in full bloom. To dump him into a so-called “elite” development squad would be to risk seeing that potential stifled, instead of being honed, as it is now, under Bielsa and alongside the likes of Pablo Hernandez.

Leeds United themselves, thankfully, seem to have become a lot more selective in terms of both squad augmentation and pruning. The development squad is being enhanced with a succession of quality additions, and the progression from there to first team level is a clear path. United also recognise and reward the diamonds yielded by this rich seam, polishing some for display on a grand stage, profiting from others judiciously, with the dividend being ploughed back. It’s a policy designed to reap ever richer harvests in the near future – showing that this is a club at long last on the right track. We can safely assume that United will no longer accept derisory offers from smaller clubs for a short term profit that denies them progress and a longer term bounty.

If I’m correct about all that, then – all media hue, cry and desperation notwithstanding – young Jack Clarke will remain exactly he is, shining and dazzling on either wing, tormenting opposing defences with his prodigious, precocious talent, in the colours of Leeds United, settled and happy on the brink of a sensational career. Which is exactly what we would all of us wish and hope for.

Sky Sports et al not included.

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29 responses to “Media Moving on from Spygate for Concerted Effort to Sell Leeds Star Jack Clarke – by Rob Atkinson

  1. Good read, agreed that the media, especially Sky it seems like to be as damaging to Leeds interests as possible but ive heard rumours that Ian Harte, Clarkes agent may also be encouraging the gossip in order to get a new deal for Clarke ?

    Like

  2. The lad’s not just a Leeds player, he’s a Leeds fan, so is his mum n dad. I’m sure that Ian Harte will be given short shrift if he really is agitating.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Graham Atkinson

    Absolutely well put Rob, although I’m still slightly worried that if a club came in with a hugely tempting offer, that the money will make a louder noise than the more common sense attitudes amongst us long suffering but loyal LUFC fans. If players like Jack Clarke are allowed to go, it will send out all the wrong signals to the most loyal, tolerant and patient supporters in Europe, if not the whole world.
    Personally I don’t see this happening, and I hope to God I’m right.
    We do need some additions to the squad for sure, but if we can keep the current management team, and the steady flow of academy talent coming through, with the addition of some seasoned players then surely this is our best chance of upsetting the whole of the football league, by actually getting promoted. Leeds United in the Premiership is my dream, as I know it is yours. That’s when the money needs to flood in, from let’s face it, a very rich city, a bonus would be waving goodbye to Huddersfield on our way up 😁👍.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, you paint an appealing picture 🙂 I honestly believe the club’s philosophy has changed from the days when we short-sightedly sold Lewis Cook to Bournemouth – just hope I’m right about that.

      Liked by 1 person

    • thing is, if his form holds his price is going to go up with or without promotion isn’t it ……..So Radz is better off holding out until the summer atleast, no sense at all in selling now

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  4. I’ve been waiting for a comment from the club which came via Phil Hay today that he will not be sold. I expected that to be the case but this is the first test of resolve for Radrizzani where all previous owners over the last years have sold the supporters down the river. I know Viera departed in the summet but that was a little different.

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  5. NickB(50yrsLU)

    Yes, they’re nervous times, with the EFL likely to pronounce shortly, and over a week till the window closes, but, as Alan says, Clarke has been a passionate Leeds supporter all his young life, and clearly is not like a certain left back (not Harte!) who left for money and glory only to find anonymity! I was slightly worried about rumours of Ze Luis for £10.5M, but there’s no way Bielsa would allow Clarke to leave in order to get him – it’s the chess equivalent of sacrificing your queen (no aspersions intended!) to save a bishop! Radrizzani must know everything hinges on keeping Bielsa happy, and I’ve no doubt he defers to him on everything to do with the team; and quite rightly so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Life is LUFC

    You’re leaning on an open door with subject. A very good read Rob.
    Well at least if the media are picking on Leeds it means they are leaving someone else alone. One day Leeds might, just might get lucky and the media will leave them alone……and hell will freeze over first.
    Well if the media are going to bash Leeds we might as well make full use of it and advertise the media for what they are. A pack of baying wolves that have no notion of right and wrong, good or bad or beautiful and ugly. For which they fall into the latter of each category and may SKY burn in hell as soon as possible.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Another fantastic read from the best Leeds United blog out there. I always look out for these articles on News Now, and I’m pleased to see that the frequency of production has stepped up recently. Great work, keep these masterpieces coming!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks James – it’s good to be the King.

      Like

      • Graham Atkinson

        I have complete faith in my brother’s totally objective views, and subsequent writing regarding all things LUFC related.
        This is a completely unbiased and wholly objective opinion.

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      • Quite right too – but I hope you haven’t seen through my light edit of serial wanker James Willoughby’s (if that’s his real name) latest deluded post. This guy seems to think he’s had me taken off News Now about 17 times, it’s a shame he’s too much of a coward to front up and contact me directly.

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      • Graham Atkinson

        Well, you said it all Bro, what a spineless tosser ! The world outside West Yorkshire is full of them unfortunately !

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      • And I’d be so happy to talk to him too, if only he had the cojones 🤔

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      • Graham Atkinson

        More chance of plaiting fog !

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  8. howard mackey

    I enjoyed that read Rob thanks,i hope young Jack is not sold at any time, it would be taking a massive step back and none of us want that do we.
    Regards, H.

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  9. Much too early for Jack to move, if ever.
    He will get a chance under Marcelo, to develop into the player we all hope he becomes.
    Leeds have said today that he is not going to be sold so there.
    Talking of Sky, they really got their teeth into the story of that poor lad missing on his way to Cardiff.
    Hypocrites, pretending they care.
    Twas ever thus!

    Like

  10. Reality Cheque

    Fantastic read Rob, Do I detect just a hint of mutual suspicion regarding the (destructive), intentions of Sky, despite their exhaustive efforts to conduct purely impartial and balanced investigative journalism? tut ,tut Rob.

    Yes, Bielsa has indeed transformed our U18 and U23 production line into a healthy beating heart, producing all the energy and oxygen our injury decimated first team squad could wish for. It is fan-tastic that Jack Clarke and his immediate family are staunch Leeds United fans, bursting with pride at the progress and massive potential in front of their eyes at Elland Road!

    So far, Year 2 of Radrizzani’s 5 Year “Project” has been the polar opposite of Year 1 and left every elated Leeds United pinching themselves. The much criticised Victor Orta is now regarded as being the most talented and knowledgeable Sporting Director around.

    So our message to Sky et al is simple Rob; You can only ever look through the fence from the OUTSIDE of our amazing football club so Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid. MOT

    Like

  11. Kal Sandhu

    Always enjoy a fantastic read Rob. Keep up the good word. The main street media doesn’t like real winners. LUFC and Trump face their bias daily 🙂 I know you despise the latter 🙂
    MOT

    Like

  12. I’m wondering if Kamara at Fulham, and the despicable Hennessey with his “salute” will garner any attention from the media, probably not but, one can live in hope 😀

    Like

  13. Paul Smith

    Another sparkling piece of accuracy, laden with wit, both wry and dark but nevertheless seasoned with suspicions of dark days gone by where we sold the family silver for a short term gain and a long term stain on our reputation and diminished performance. Great piece yet again Rob…thank you…I’ll buy you a 99 next time in Filey pal. This really should be our year…please, oh please…let it be ours, without legal distraction. As Joe Wainman says…”It’s our time” and long bloody overdue…don’t feel the FL appointed referees see it quite that clearly or fairly, mind. We stand alone and fight the forces of darkness to drag The Whites back into the light! ALAW MOT, Champions Elect!

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  14. There is so much at the club right now that feels good and proper. Bielsa is an amazing man, his ideology, his philosophy and his honesty is that big breath of fresh air we have waited for and it’s very contagious. We all know that we need strengthening and he does too, but his faith and belief in these young lads is admirable and there must parents and families out their just bursting with the utmost pride. The injury crises is easing, we have good, honest guys itching to get back and be a part of this rollercoaster we are all on and I trust Bielsa to do the right thing. Eighteen games to go. We are top of the league and it’s NO fluke. If we pull this off the Don, Billy and all those who are no longer with us will be dancing and hugging each other in the big stadium in the sky.

    Like

    • The great thing for me after so many years of dross is that this so aptly sums up the current mood among the support. And it’s bloody wonderful 👍 Well said Popeye MOT

      Like

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