Leeds’ Gjanni Alioski: Just Like Robbie Savage, Only With Skill – by Rob Atkinson

Ezgjan Alioski – brilliantly annoying

In football, the effective player may be summed up as follows: skill, plus boundless energy; dedication to the common cause and – last, but definitely not least – that priceless knack of being able to wind up and annoy the hell out of the opposition, so that they’re simply psyched out and don’t know how to cope.

Some players have one or two of these attributes, there’s not many that have the lot. When you find one that does possess the full house, what you then need is a coach able to get the most out of such a valuable individual. Here, Leeds United with their very own genius mentor Marcelo Bielsa, can be described as very well blessed.

Macedonian international Ezgjan “Gjanni” Alioski has been a stand-out player in a very impressive Leeds United side for some time now, particularly since he moved into an attacking left back role to cover for the injury absence of Barry Douglas. Because of his capacity to run all day and through the night-time too, Alioski has been able to start from very deep and still offer a threat up front. This is more than an overlapping full-back – this is a scourge of the opposition, all the way up and down their right flank, niggling, passing, running, tackling, shooting and heading. A proper pest.

Alioski’s energy and running power is a given; to this, add his ability to create and score, as well as covering the left back patrol. At the very end of a typically busy performance against West Brom, there he was, this ersatz full-back, all the way upfield on the opposition goal line to tap home a low cross from sub Jamie Shackleton. This is not a man you find on his haunches, wheezing with exhaustion as the clock runs down. Alioski puts in the miles, and his level of performance lately has been a joy to behold.

The other thing about Gjanni is that he’s annoying. He’s the kind of player you love to hate in the opposing team, someone who will pester and hassle his opponent, taking the mick, getting in his man’s face, trying all he knows to ruffle and unsettle his opponent. He’s got an annoying face, annoying hair, an annoying attitude and an annoying smile, with the ability to get right under the skin of the other team’s more volatile characters. You hate this sort of opponent, but they can be your heroes when they wear your own team’s shirt. Just as long as they can play, too.

Because it’s not enough to be annoying, you need the other things too. Robbie Savage was the classic example of a player who nicked a living on the basis of his irritant factor plus not a lot else. He had the kind of face and hair that made you want to own a baseball bat and a pair of shears. But he couldn’t really play, though – as I well recall from a 6-0 Leeds victory in the League Cup away at Leicester – he wasn’t the type to hide. If Robbie Savage had had more ability to add to his dislikability, he would have been something approaching the player Alioski is. Even now, in his role as a radio gob on a stick, Savage continues to show more irritant value than talent.

Gjanni Alioski though is much more of a complete product, and he’d be a good bet to score a few goals as well as wind up a few victims, for any team prepared to utilise his strengths. Leeds, under Marcelo Bielsa, are uniquely placed to get the best out of a player who, in less ideal circumstances, may have struggled to fulfil his potential.

As it is, though, Alioski looks set to make a significant contribution to what, for United, could well be a landmark season.

11 responses to “Leeds’ Gjanni Alioski: Just Like Robbie Savage, Only With Skill – by Rob Atkinson

  1. If he could tone down the headless chicken act he would be even better, his enthusiasm gets him caught offside on far too many occasions. His work rate has never been in question, just decision making.

    Unfortunately, his ability to annoy is not only limited to the opposition, I and many a Leeds fan prefer his work at left back.

    Great win against a decent team on Friday, let the momentum continue.


  2. Also, for a not very tall bloke, how does he win so many headers?? The lad’s outstanding, especially since he got moved to left back and doesn’t stray offside so much


  3. Your spot on about Savage, but as hair do’s go my vote goes to that idiot Keith Andrews.


  4. Hi Rob,you forgot to mention his annoying goal celebrations aswell a simple leeds salute would be much more fitting instead of boy band heart gesture. Much improved player now.


  5. Reality Cheque

    Great post Rob. We have to thank Marcelo Bielsa for ignoring a lot of stick the Leeds “fans” gave Alioski and many even questioned Bielsa’s loyalty to Alioski throughout most of the first half of the season. Bielsa sees and understands far more than most of us could ever hope to.

    Lets not forget that Savage was a product of Scum’s youth development system so it is hardly his own fault that he will never equal a Leeds United player’s ability, talent, dedication and energy.

    Off topic but re your post yesterday about Frank Lampard’s demise following spygate, just have a watch and giggle at Derby fan’s vloggers following their capitulation at Villa. Lampard’s own “fan’s” critiques are much better and more cutting than a totally impartial Leeds United fan like myself could ever offer.(Apparently most of them left Villa Park at half time!!!!). ALAW


  6. Bielsa has managed to improve the performance of every member of the squad he inherited and Alioski is the most shining example of that. Can’t wait for Clarke to be given the all clear. We should be a real handful for the opposition all over the pitch.
    P.S Our 35th game of Wilko’s promo year was a 3-2 win at home against West Ham (I was on the Kop great game )
    At that stage as now we had 67 points. I don’t know the significance of this and I don’t want to tempt fate but……


  7. He was my man of the match on Friday,great though Tyler Roberts was. Alioski has had a hard time from some quarters for some reason but he was superb the other night,as was Luke Ayling. By the way,who wants to donate to Bolton Wanderers food bank? They can’t even afford humble pie now.


  8. Uncle Dave

    Or is he like Gazza……. without the skill?


  9. Gotta love alioski. I actually like his haircut! He may be annoying but runs all day and tries his ass off. He’ll do.


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